Type: Trad, Alpine, 900 ft, 6 pitches, Grade IV
FA: Rowell & Jones ('71) - Bartlett & Walker ('78)
Page Views: 9,969 total · 65/month
Shared By: justin dubois on Jun 30, 2006
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Access Issue: Certain Peaks: Access limited from May to October every year Details


This route is a link up of a couple routes on the west face of Russell. All I can say is it takes the BEST looking line on the west face, right directly up the center. Beyond that the photos will have to suffice for locating the route. After a little scrambling to reach the base of the crack, you pull up into the system proper. The crux is these moves pulling around a little bulge on some grainy rock. Follow this system for a pitch to some ledgy terrain. Cross some weird stuff to the left to gain the plumbline system. After that, it's hard to get lost. Follow the crack/dihedral/flake system for 3 pitches or so. This description does little to relay the striking beauty of this climb, but trust me, it's good.


left of Mithral, on the west face, dead center.
see photo


A single rack to #3 Camalot works, maybe a few doubles 3/4"-2".
jason seaver
Estes Park, CO
jason seaver   Estes Park, CO
1st half is the West Face (Galen Rowell, Chris Jones 1971)
2nd half is New Era (Alan Bartlett, Kim Walker 1978)
The combo became Western Front when Peter Croft attempted to repeat Rowell's route WITH him but Rowell couldn't remember where it went, so they ended up on New Era. Croft describes it as "the best looking line on the biggest face on Mt. Russell" and claims the fourth pitch is the best he's done on Mt. Russell. It's the only route I've done on Russell and it is certainly of VERY high quality. A little graininess on the 2nd pitch, but otherwise excellent rock in beautiful, steep, airy corners.

All this info is from Croft's excellent book "The Good, The Great, and The Awesome". Also worth noting is that Croft calls it a 900' grade IV. I can't remember exactly how long it was but we did it in 6 pitches; none of them short, one of them with some simuling. It does go pretty quickly though with its obvious features and the descent is quick and easy too. Highly recommended. Jul 1, 2006
justin dubois
Estes Park
justin dubois   Estes Park
I have the unfortunate habit of forgetting just how long some of these routes really are.
now that I think about it, It's definitely a big grade IV.
After doing the Incredible Hulk, they all felt small. Jul 2, 2006
flagstaff, AZ
  5.10+ PG13
markguycan   flagstaff, AZ
  5.10+ PG13
we didn't read the beta from Croft til afterwards: the crack in the corner on pitch 4 & 5 is "suitable only for knifeblades and girl fingers" if you do it this way as we did, bring at least doubles of micro cams and many small nuts. expect some powerful and insecure stemming on gravelly face. we did shorter pitches to start then a couple 200ft rope stretchers with some simulclimbing. I would say it remains 10+ but with cruxes on pitch 1, 4 & 5. pitches 2,3 & 6 are 5.8 or 5.9 with another 400ft of 4th and easy 5th to the summit. A worthy endeavor... Jul 14, 2008
My partner and I did this route last week. When we were done we were both grinning from ear to ear.
P1 easy and about 80 feet to a ledge
P2 kicks your butt right off the ledge for about 30 feet of 10c(hard 5.9), then stays sustained 5.9 for about 120 more feet.
P3 is 5.9 with a traverse and some funky arete climbing in double/triple flaring cracks.
P4 is like P3 but a little harder up the arete. Croft says to back up the loose flake with a purple tcu. We did that. I also found a red camalot placement up the arete about 4 feet higher. The red cam was the only thing that I think made the anchor solid.
P5 is long sustained 10a climbing up the dihedral for about 185 feet. Belay takes anything from yellow alien to yellow camalot, so save some gear. We belayed high on the ledge on the right side, after finishing the left facing dihedral.
P6 was really fun 5.8 climbing in great hand and finger cracks.
P7 was a long simul-climb to the top.
We brought a rack of doubles to yellow camalot, and a single #3. We also brought a set of nuts. No small nuts were needed. Aug 17, 2009
Oakland, Ca
snowhazed   Oakland, Ca
WOW- this climb blew my mind. Full value- three of the pitches are simply stellar, and there's nothing wrong with the rest of it. Where else do you jam/lieback/arete slap all at the same time? Belay at top of p4 takes some creativity. The final 10a corner is sustained for 170 of its 200 feet. Still drooling. Aug 19, 2009
e Dixon
Durango, Colorado
e Dixon   Durango, Colorado
The crux is short on P2, the "belay flake" on P4 is less than ideal...but can be backed up by a #1 Camalot a bit higher, and P5 is absolutely stellar. Cool route. Jun 7, 2011
GR Johnson  
Super fun line. 5.10 that high up was suprisingly taxing. Lots of fun though. Sep 4, 2011
I did this route a few days ago and thought it was the best back country line I’ve done that doesn’t get talked about all the time.

Maybe it’s the altitude or maybe I’m just getting old but I thought pitches two and five were quite hard. 11- and 10+ respectively. Also, p5 is more like 230 ft. there is a good belay ledge about 90 ft up where I stopped.

We had a double set of friends up to 1 ½ with singles to 3 ½ seemed adequate… Aug 2, 2013
I seem to remember two cheater stones perfectly placed at the P1 belay to help get established on P2. Without these, it looked pretty desperate to get into the corner/crack off the belay ledge (even at 6'3"). Sep 17, 2014