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Western Front 

YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b

Type:  Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 900', Grade IV
Original:  YDS: 5.10c French: 6b Ewbanks: 20 UIAA: VII ZA: 20 British: E2 5b [details]
FA: Rowell & Jones ('71) - Bartlett & Walker ('78)
Season: June - July
Page Views: 8,912
Submitted By: justin dubois on Jun 30, 2006

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Dave Russell following the beautiful P5 dihedral o...

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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".

Photos of Western Front Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Route Overlay Western Front
BETA PHOTO: Route Overlay Western Front
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down all 200 feet of pitch 5. If you look ...
Looking down all 200 feet of pitch 5. If you look ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down from the top of the second pitch.
Looking down from the top of the second pitch.
Rock Climbing Photo: looking down one of the beautiful dihedral pitches...
looking down one of the beautiful dihedral pitches...
Rock Climbing Photo: the crux. pitch one
the crux. pitch one
Rock Climbing Photo: The line of Western Front
BETA PHOTO: The line of Western Front

Comments on Western Front Add Comment
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By jason seaver
From: Estes Park, CO
Jul 1, 2006

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.
By justin dubois
From: Estes Park
Jul 2, 2006

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.
By markguycan
From: flagstaff, AZ
Jul 14, 2008
rating: 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b 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...
By Dustysdawg
Aug 17, 2009

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.
By snowhazed
From: Oakland, Ca
Aug 19, 2009

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.
By e Dixon
From: Durango, Colorado
Jun 7, 2011
rating: 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b

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.
By GR Johnson
Sep 4, 2011

Super fun line. 5.10 that high up was suprisingly taxing. Lots of fun though.
By Steve Seats
Aug 2, 2013

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…
By Richard Shore
Sep 17, 2014

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").

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