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North America, United States, California, Sierra Nevada, Poleminium Pillar

Polemonium Pillar. Approaching Mt. Russell from the Whitney-Russell col, while dropping down toward Russell’s towering west face, the climber is stunned by the beautiful cracks, corners, and aretes that make up the south and west sides of the mountain. Often overlooked is the thousand-foot-high south face that drops down from the ridgeline extending off of the long west ridge of Mt. Russell. In July Micha Miller and I climbed a route up a series of left-facing corners in the center of this face. It tops out just right of the sharp prow that forms a high point on long west ridge. To descend we traversed toward Russell and dropped down the west couloir. We named both the formation and the route Polemonium Pillar (IV 5.10b).

Most of the climbing was in the 5.9 range, with a shallow, flared crack on the third pitch providing the crux. Insecure jams and questionable pro made things interesting. Lovely blossoms of Sky Pilot (Polemonium) scattered on the ledges give the route its name.

David Harden, AAC