Scotty had promised that we would do an FA for our birthdays back in July. Unfortunately the weather had other plans for us that weekend (We were able to do the FFA of Kostas and Nate’s route Cleavage Dreamer, with a direct start). A promise is a promise, so the next chance we had, we were headed back up to the North Face of Mt. Russell to give it another go. Things went smoothly enough (I have yet to go on a Scotty vacation). We got up at 4am on Saturday and got to the base of Mt. Carillon where we set up camp and had a leisurely afternoon of bouldering, top-roping, among other things…
We awoke Sunday morning at 4:30 and made the rest of the trek back to the North Face of Mt. Russell. I had a bit of altitude sickness, which added to the “fun.” Maybe choosing a name is bad luck before you climb it, but we had decided on The Nelson/Pearson Direct. When we got to the climb, I realized the line was not direct at all and there was some hesitation and talk about calling it the Nelson/Pearson Indirect.
Eventually we started the climb. Scotty led the first pitch which was pretty easy ground, albeit loose and scary. I led the second pitch, the start of the endless traversing. Scotty said that I seemed more comfortable on the loose stuff than he does, which I still haven’t decided whether that’s a good or a bad thing. The second pitch was a really fun traversing pitch, following the most obvious lines on the way to the first main objective, the pillar. After the second pitch it was an easy pitch up the ramp to the pillar.
I lucked out and got to lead the fourth pitch, which turned out to be one of the crux pitches. It starts out with an almost vertical hand crack, that honestly must have been made for me (i.e. woohoo red cams!). This led to an insanely exposed hand rail traverse that went on for days, and ended with some thin, heady face moves around a corner. This pitch was more exposed than a Polaroid picture!! And I am sure I was shaking more than one too!! When Scotty got to the belay he exclaimed that it was one of the best pitches he had ever done in the Sierras. Unfortunately we don’t have many good pictures of this pitch because I had the camera with me. Oops.
Pitches 5-8 are all easy ground, following the ramp, which can and should be simul climbed. Originally we were going to stop on the ramp and head up towards a dihedral, but when we got there it looked chossy and it didn’t seem like it would go. So, we continued along the ramp. I’m glad we did because it ended up leading to another highlight of the climb: a great crack system including a section with double cracks. Really fun climbing with good pro. The tenth pitch went up what I thought was an incredibly awkward short off-width in a corner. Scotty walked up it of course, and I flailed up it after contemplating bypassing it by climbing on the face to the right (I still think this would go and would probably be easier).
Then it was easy ground to the top! Hooray! It was a really cool experience for me to the lead the last pitch and belay up Scotty while sitting on the ridge. What a view! So, it ended up being a really fun route with some amazing exposed sections, that basically traversed the whole north face. We topped out, hiked back out that day, then drove back to San Diego that night, and I was subsequently sore for 4 days after we got back. It was completely worth it. I finally got to be a part of the pullharder FA club, and I got to do it with my babe (Awwww).