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Mt. Russell
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Bloody Corner  T 
East Arete T 
Fishhook ArĂȘte T 
Mithril Dihedral T 
South Slope T 
Star Trekkin' T 
Western Front T 

Mithril Dihedral 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 500', Grade III
Original:  YDS: 5.9 French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: HVS 5a [details]
FA: Alan Bartlett & Alan Roberts, July 1976
Season: June-July
Page Views: 34,626
Submitted By: Chris Owen on Mar 6, 2006

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (71)
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Fred Batliner on the final technical pitch.

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  • Description 

    Day 1 From Whitney Portal, hike up North Fork to camp at Iceberg Lake.

    Day 2 Do climb.

    Day 3 Hike back to Whitney Portal.

    A magnificent climb on good rock, with excellent protection.

    Scramble up to ledges.

    Below is how we did it years ago - before real beta, we just knew it had been climbed and that was it. See comments for modern beta.

    P1 5.7 Follow cracks up to a ledge.

    P2 5.7 Better rock leads up along a knobby crack to a ramp below the corner proper.

    P1 and P2 can be combined with a 70m rope

    P3 5.9 A short pitch. Up the corner steeply to belay in a widening section.

    P4 5.9 Up the steepest part of the corner until the angle relents.

    P3 and P4 are best combined into one pitch.

    P5 5.9 The corner presents one last obstacle, a steep lieback to exit right onto a ledge.

    P6 Hundreds of feet of CL4 lead to one of the best summits anywhere.


    Climbs the obvious huge dihedral left of Fishhook Arete. Descend south gully between West and East Peaks.


    Full rack. 70m rope, see comments below.

    Photos of Mithril Dihedral Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: This summit will make most mortals quite giddy.
    This summit will make most mortals quite giddy.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Route Beta. Top section is much  foreshortened.
    BETA PHOTO: Route Beta. Top section is much foreshortened.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Climbers on Mithril, photo taken from Star Trekkin
    Climbers on Mithril, photo taken from Star Trekkin
    Rock Climbing Photo: Tony Tennessee gets to grips with the meat of the ...
    Tony Tennessee gets to grips with the meat of the ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: 3rd pitch
    3rd pitch
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lakes below the east ridge descent
    Lakes below the east ridge descent
    Rock Climbing Photo: Another shot of Fred on the last pitch.
    Another shot of Fred on the last pitch.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Route Overlay for Mithral Dihedral.
    BETA PHOTO: Route Overlay for Mithral Dihedral.
    Rock Climbing Photo: Here we go...
    BETA PHOTO: Here we go...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Looking west from atop the corner
    Looking west from atop the corner
    Rock Climbing Photo: Don't drop your partners yellow mastercam.  Or do....
    Don't drop your partners yellow mastercam. Or do....
    Rock Climbing Photo: The weather's perfect and the gang's all here...  ...
    BETA PHOTO: The weather's perfect and the gang's all here... ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: 3rd pitch
    3rd pitch
    Rock Climbing Photo: The dihedral looming above
    The dihedral looming above
    Rock Climbing Photo: Following a pitch in the corner
    Following a pitch in the corner
    Rock Climbing Photo: The Mithral Dihedral
    The Mithral Dihedral
    Rock Climbing Photo: Troutman following p3 of the Mithral Dihedral
    Troutman following p3 of the Mithral Dihedral
    Rock Climbing Photo: A very nice step across finish- reminiscent of the...
    BETA PHOTO: A very nice step across finish- reminiscent of the...
    Rock Climbing Photo: Lakes to the west of Mt Russell
    Lakes to the west of Mt Russell
    Rock Climbing Photo: 29aug09, we did it like this.  Red line denotes ou...
    BETA PHOTO: 29aug09, we did it like this. Red line denotes ou...

    Comments on Mithril Dihedral Add Comment
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    Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 10, 2015
    By Chris Owen
    From: Big Bear Lake
    Mar 6, 2006

    A disclaimer on the beta photo. This is the way we decided to do the climb. It made more sense to us to make P3 a short pitch and get a belay in the chimney. Otherwise we would have had to do a hanging belay halfway up the big pitch. You may choose to do otherwise. CO.
    By ttriche
    From: Altadena, CA
    Mar 14, 2006
    rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

    Putting the belay in the chimney makes the route a 5.9+; if you run it straight through to the ledge where the 4th class begins, the route is more like a 5.10-, according to Croft (and most others, including me).

    Fantastic route, excellent rock, very clean. Triples of hand-sized pieces are not uncalled for, especially if you choose to do most of the corner as a rope-stretcher pitch. Great finish to the corner, too.
    By Chris Owen
    From: Big Bear Lake
    Mar 15, 2006

    Hmmm, 5.9+ or 5.10-? Well I for one can't tell the difference between the two, especially at 14,000ft where they'd both feel like 5.11 to me....
    By Murf
    Sep 11, 2006

    In general pretty sustained climbing. Regardless of length of pitches, I'd say 5.10- is fair as there's a ton of 5.9. With all the sillyness with pitch lengths, here is what I thought worked well.

    Pitch 1 and 2 as described by Croft. If you start late enough both belays will be in the sun.
    Pitch 3 - 175~180' belay on the first real ledge worth the name, *not* a hanging belay as such.
    Pitch 4 - 100' finish the last part of the dihedral.
    Pitch 5 - Carry on until rope drag bites real bad
    Pitch 6 - 400+ feet of 4th class

    As for triples in the 1.5" to 2.5" ( as described in Croft )... I feel that triples in say .4 to .75 Camalot with doubles in the 1 and 2 Camalot's would be more valuable. We also thought the dihedral was longer than 250', pehaps 275'?
    By Chris Owen
    From: Big Bear Lake
    Oct 4, 2006

    Thanks Murf -I did the route a long time ago, didn't have a 200 foot rope, a topo, and had a very basic rack (set of hexes, set of rocks and a few friends), so we weren't sure what to expect and were inclined to stop and belay where we could. Doing the route as you suggest would therefore involve only 2 pitches in the dihedral instead of 3 and is, without a doubt, worth considering.
    By bbrock
    From: Al
    Dec 19, 2006

    I thought this route was just OK, not as great as its made out to be. I saw that picture of the final layback on the exit move in a climbing magazine and said HOLY SHIT I've got to do this route. The rest of the climb is not quite as good as that picture looks. Oh well it's worth doing but I wouldn't go up there just to do this one route.
    By philippe
    Jun 22, 2007

    Did this route yesterday, cold at the base at 7:30am. We climbed the first pitch about 160 to an obvious ledge below a wide section. 2nd pitch was 120 ft to a decent narrow stance at the start of the dihedral. 3rd pitch was full 200ft. to where the corner gets less steep, obvious from below, two decent ledge systems to belay from, we chose the higher one. From there it was about 100ft. to the end of the dihedral with one of the best 5.9 finishes anywhere, this pitch made the final pitch on 3rd pillar look like a pile. We camped at Upper Boyscout and took about 2 hours to reach the base of the route. Absolutely killer and a way better setting than Whitney, Russell is steep and remote, shame that the Mithril is only four long pitches....We descended the east ridge, a cool traverse all the way down to Upper Boyscout, straightforward but with great exposure.
    By Anthony Anagnostou
    From: nyc
    Mar 8, 2008

    awesome route. pristine granite, twin hand cracks in a corner with a view.

    if i recall correctly, we belayed at the base of the dihedral proper. then one very long pitch (that i seem to recall almost finishing our 60m) to a great stance with good gear where the angle kicks back just a bit. not a hanging belay. then a shorter pitch over the upper crux and onto ledges above. that first long pitch in the dihedral is wonderful.

    shame it isnt longer. but- it means you can afford to start late (and thereby climb in the sun).

    i would stack things so you can go down the east ridge. i think its faster, infinitely more interesting, less chossy, etc. much better finish.
    By Bill Kelly
    From: Lake Tahoe
    Sep 20, 2009

    Agreed- if the dihedral is run through for 200+ feet, it's 5.10, if it's broken up into 100' pieces, it's 5.9.

    Go for the 5.10, woohoo!
    By Bonesaw
    From: CA
    Aug 10, 2010
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    IMO, the route is no harder than 5.9. While sustained in places and above 13,000 ft, the moves themselves are 5.9. Secor calls it 10b, Croft calls it 10a and McNamara gives it 10b, but those ratings seem a bit too hard for this route. There are some good rests along the way that make it totally managable. With that being said, it is one of the coolest routes I've ever been on. CALSSIC for sure!!!
    By Mark P Thomas
    From: Oakland
    Jul 2, 2012
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    I was very winded hopping on this route about 12 hrs after leaving sea level. Still, even with the thin-air-leading-with-pack pant-fest, I'd have to say the route honestly is 5.9 or 5.9+ by the hardest technical move. Hands-free or hands-less pant rests are there for nearly every few moves on the entire route if you know how to rest in a crack that is in a corner with face features. However, if you want to do the route clean and solid, you should be a 5.10 leader as the climbing is sustained and it . . . just . . . keeps . . . going! Great for every inch too.

    I agree with the above statement that it is better to bring triples in the smaller sizes. I never managed to use 3 of the following Camalots (#1, #2, #3). I found a #4 handy here and there but probably not required. You can probably be just fine sewing up the climb with only doubles if you don't link any of P3, 4, or 5. Also, we used fewer cams in the gear anchors by using some tri-cams. We only placed one nut on the route and it was very optional.
    By alexjamesmayers
    From: hayward, ca
    Sep 28, 2012

    PLease make sure you are prepared to descend a sharp ridgeline and possibly in the dark. If you have to wait for the sun to warm up the rock, it can start your day off a bit late. Just know the topo of the descent to get back to camp. We got ledged out by assuming the wrong decent and had to hike back up and make another guess which was thankfully the right one.
    By RAZORsharp
    From: Carlsbad CA
    Jun 26, 2014
    rating: 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a

    First pitch to obvious ledge. 2nd pitch to a small sloping ramp, make sure you have good rope management here. 3rd pitch up the dihedral, past the chimney, to a small stance on the left face. 4th pitch finish up the dihedral, belay at any one of the large ledges above. Solo the last ~3-400ft of 4th class. some exposed and loose stuff, be weary. Descended the east ridge to upper boyscout. Rack: doubles in BD .75,1, 2, triples in orange Metolius TCU, doubles in red, yellow blue tcu. bring long slings for the first 2 pitches and the final placements of the dihedral so when you go over the ledges you wont have severe rope drag. WHAT A STELLAR CLIMB!
    By Mickey Sensenbach
    From: San luis obispo CA
    Sep 16, 2014

    We did the Mithral in 16 hours car to car... I would recommend doing the climb like that rather then hiking stuff up to iceberg... Unless you have multiple climbs planned. On the descent be sure not to go for the big ridge you can see from the west summit, in stead go over to the other summit and look for the other obvious ridge line...

    Little video of the climb!
    By x15x15
    Sep 17, 2014

    That's my problem, I can't justify a 16hr day for 6 pitches. I wish I did not despise hiking...
    By Colin Brochard
    From: San Francisco
    Dec 3, 2014

    Do you need to win the whitney lottery to do this climb?
    By Raiden
    From: Royal Oak, MI
    Mar 10, 2015

    No you don't need to win the lottery, but there are still limited permit slots which fill up early for the more popular dates. Do a ctrl + F search for "Mt. Russell" at the following link and you'll find the permit info.

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