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. 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. 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. P5 5.9 The corner presents one last...[more]Browse More Classics in CA
By Kyle Willis From: Las Vegas, Nevada Jun 7, 2014 CONDITION REPORT
Went up the E. Ridge 6/5/14. A bit of route finding around patches of snow, where clearly the trail goes around the north, avoiding the steeper sections of the ridge line. One instance where an axe was handy to cross an exposed section, nice to have but perhaps unnecessary. Also in need of a new summit register.
There is an alternate approach via the "Cartwell Variation" which continues past Upper Boyscout Lake. The was originally used to approach the East Ridge. Continue on a use trail past the right of Upper Boyscout. Keep going past an alpine lake, again passing on the right, and around a scree slope until you meet a slabby buttress. You can climb the slabby buttress at Class 3+ or continue on the faint tail. In either case you eventually work your way high under the south face of Russell heading for the "L Shaped Pass".
It is shorter than the Iceberg approach but the scree below the south face is truly heinous. 3/4 of the way through it I swore never to do it again (similar oaths have been uttered on the Whitney-Russell Col). In truth, both ways are kinda brutal.
Where I think this variation truly shines is getting down to Upper Boyscout in the event the East Ridge isn't an option. This happened to a partner and I due to a heavy dusting of snow on the upper reaches. East Ridge was a death trap, so we went back via Iceberg. This would have been a much better way down.
Just a note - in the description it states that a permit is required for "overnighting" in this area. As of 2013, I am pretty sure a permit is required for day trips up the N. Fork of Lone Pine Creek as well. Check with the Inyo NF to make sure you have the story straight.