Type: Trad, Alpine, 1000 ft
FA: unknown
Page Views: 245 total · 9/month
Shared By: kenr on Aug 21, 2016
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


Lots of fun climbing and down-climbing moves over boulders and gendarmes along the ridge. The idea is to stay as close to the crest of the ridge as possible, and to seek out the most fun climbing moves. Finishes over an overhanging bulge onto the summit.

Most of the harder sections or moves are short -- Many are avoidable -- just make sure you don't climb up anything you can't also climb back down.

Simplest place to start is at the major break in the ridge with a big tower to its right and a narrow tower to its left. This gives about 1000 feet of ridge climbing/scrambling NW to the summit, and most of the points and gendarmes along the way can be climbed up one side and down the other.

longer from lower start? Advantage of starting lower on the ridge is more climbing with less slogging up steep sand and scree. So far we've tried farther SE below the major break about another 400 feet where the crest of the ridge has a sequence of big "diving boards" perched out over the steep NE face, somewhere around (N36.5901 W118.2740). Unfortunately they don't look like diving boards from the approach, so not easy to target. There are two towers between the diving boards and the major break. Disadvantage is that it's not likely there is a way at "low 5th class" both up and over down the other side on either tower (though at least one can be climbed up and back on the same side). Anyway to scrambling/climmbing to get around each tower (on its SW side) is interesting.

And there might be other "low 5th class" places to get up onto the ridge much lower, but so far it is unknown where those are, or how well connected is the climbing on the ridge above them. Hope to see helpful reports appearing in the Comments below.

comparing: This route has a higher "density" of fun moves than the famous E ridge of Russell, and perhaps more satisfying because it is possible to get up onto and over down the other side of (almost?) all the "gendarmes" obstructing this Carillon ridge, with easy/moderate difficulty - (unlike Russell E ridge where some of the obstacles on the crest are much harder or even impossible to get down the other side).

more: Can be "enchained" with other similar routes to make a longer sequence for a day's climbing. Most obvious is continuing down the W ridge of Carillon to reach Russell-Carillon pass, then up the Mt Russell East ridge. Or after climbing up E ridge of Russell, descend N ridge of Mt Russell, hike E past Lake Tulainyo, then up to Cleaver Col, then up NE ridge of Mt Carillon, then descend this route SE ridge.

Another fun add-on: After reaching the summit, could try climbing down the upper 150 feet of the NorthEast ridge (perhaps easier a bit lower on NW side of that ridge). Then back up it (perhaps more interesting directly on the ridge crest or sometimes its SE side) to return to the summit.

descent: Scramble down a little somewhere on the S or SW side, soon reach talus and sand. Hike S on sand to meet approach route.

statistics: The hiking/scrambling approach to the obvious notch in the ridge starting from Whitney Portal is about +4950 vertical feet over 4.5 miles distance (+1510m over 7.2km). So a typical hikers' time for that would be 7 - 7.5 hours. An athletic climber with good altitude acclimatization might hope to reach the notch in 4 hours. Or if camping at Upper Boy Scout Lake, reaching that is about +3050 vertical feet over 3.6 miles distance (+925m over 5.7km).

Then for climbing from the notch up to the Mt Carillon summit, the difference in altitude is about +270 vertical feet (+80m) -- but since there are many ups + downs, the actual upward effort is much larger than that. The horizontal distance is about 0.2 mile (0.3km), including some weaving around.

permit required: This route (or at least its normal approach + descent) require a USFS wilderness permit for either single-day or overnight use. The permit can be requested in advance in January, or sometimes permits are available the day before by walking into the Mt Whitney Visitors Center just south of Lone Pine - (only available at this center, not at any other USFS centers along the Eastside Sierra).


The summit of Mt Carillon is at (lat long ~ N36.59242 W118.27794) - (altitude 13,552ft / 4132m).
The simplest place to start climbing on the ridge is at a major break in the SE ridge with a big tower to its right and a narrow tower to its left - (lat long N36.5908 W118.2757) - (altitude 13280ft / 4050m)

From Whitney Portal trailhead, start by hiking up the Mt Whitney Trail (past the Carillon Creek turn-off) to the signed turn-off for North Fork Lone Pine Creek (N36.5869 W118.2453). Turn Right onto the (unofficial) North Fork trail and hike with some serious scrambling sections (full 3rd class), generally W up to Lower Boy Scout Lake. Continue up generally East toward Upper Boy Scout Lake, with some serious talus scrambling, then some slabs. But before reaching Upper B.S. Lake, near Clyde Meadow at about (N36.5815 W118.2678), turn Right off the trail and head up NW, perhaps at first a short ways through some bushes, then on sand. Gets steeper later, then on gentle sand toward Russell-Carillon pass. But much lower before reaching that Pass, somewhere around (N36.5896 W118.2774), bear Right NE on steeper sand, then into talus and scramble up steeper talus to the major break in the SE ridge.


No fixed anchors or other gear. Type or size of Trad protection which might be used is unknown. Anyway the difficulties are very short and mostly avoidable.


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