For the approach - some snow was encountered above Lower Boy Scout Lake. Upper Boy Scout Lake had dry bivy areas. Winds on Friday were steady at 15MPH with gust up to 25MPH. Saturday had little to no wind and Sunday the winds were back. Temps from 30 - 70 degrees.
The slope under the col had about 3 feet deep of snow and we chose to ascend that way to avoid the scree. In the morning it was quite firm thus requiring crampons. The ridge to Russell was dry except the area just below the East Summit, but the post hole track was waist deep and afforded plenty of protection (no crampons). We did encounter a short section (15 feet) of snow/ice 5 minutes below the West Summit that was about 6 inches wide on top and required crampons as one slip and there would be no chance of self arrest. I suppose it could have been avoided by climbing higher on the ridge or down climbing considerably below it, but we had crampons so it was the quickest solution.
Please keep in mind that the hot temps during the day are rapidly changing the conditions. For example, on our way down yesterday we were amazed that so much snow had melted off the traverse above Lower Boyscout Lake (exposing a large large talus area that was covered just two days before).
I did the route yesterday car to car from the Portal. Lots of snow crossing on the way up the trail from Lower Boys Scout still, but I didn't need crampons for any of it. Morning the snow was good and hard and easy to traverse, by late afternoon it was wet and soft and made the descent slower.
The gravel/talus hill is pretty strenuous. Right now if you have crampons and and ice axe you can make it up a steep snow gully to the right of the gravel hill (hill is a word used loosely, it's a long steep slope). After the top of that it was some gravel then snow travel all the way up to the Russell/Carillon Col. No ice tools needed there.
The ridgeline itself is a blast. The description about serious exposure is dead on, there were a few really heady moves. More heads-up exposure moves than I expected. Also, there's a snow traverse right before the top of the West Summit. The snow yesterday was good, pretty hard and packed down up there and we did it without axe/crampons, but as it melts out later this month those might be needed cause if you come off and don't self arrest in the snow below you're going for a ride right off the cliff.
It's a fun route to do if you're already up there at Iceberg for other routes and want something fun to run up. But doing it CTC in a day, the approach/descent hike not worth it for just that route. Still, it made for a fun exhilirating day.
Just soloed this route on Saturday. First ascent of '05 according to the register, last ascent was peter croft in nov '04. There were many sections of snow and ice on the north side that required crampons and ice axe. Overall a great route took about 1.5hrs each direction. If doing this hit Clarrion (sp?) on hte way down, it's only a few hundred vertical additional and yeilds some spectacular views of the E Ridge. Approach beta: If the normal gully to the right of upper boyscout has no snow it can be a slug up a gravel hill, to avoid this continue past upper boyscout staying on the right. Head up to mt. russell. Take the last chute on the right before mt. russell. This will lead to the start of the E. ridge with a bit of 3rd class but much less gravel that the normal way (faster).
The route as seen from the summit of Whitney.
Photo: Chris McNamara
*What is "Route Beta"?
It's climber slang for information or tips on a route as in, "what's
the beta on that route?" As a service to fellow climbers we ask SuperTopo
guidebook users to post tips and updates to this website if they have relevant
information to share after a climb.