Inspired by Christopher's report and description on the FKT website and this route fully lived up to my expectations. I totally loved it and it felt like a classic high Sierra day traveling through all sorts of challenging terrain and ending with an airy ridge to the summit.
As a first go, route finding added a bit of time to the day to navigate the E-ledges and the East Ridge to the Russell summit (we also blew by the first turn off in the dark and added about a mile and a few hundred feet of gain to the day--oops). Tony had been up there 10 years ago while doing Croft's Big 4, but it was my first time and I kept our pace super conservative on the ridge (it took us a little over an hour to do the ridge to the summit, and about an hour to get back from the summit to the base of the ridge). The exposure is no joke! There's definitely room for improvement and would love to try again.
It was a pretty warm day (high 90s down in Lone Pine) and sunny/little wind so we stopped to get refill water a few times, which was easy to do as much of the route follows the creek as well as the Boy Scout lakes. I loved having poles and we stashed them before the ridge. Overall an incredible day out!