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Merchant peak from mount baring

Merchant Peak

Merchant Peak (6113')

8/16/2020

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Merchant Peak has been on my list of climbs since I finally stood atop nearby Mount Baring in 2014. With its two summits and steep sides, it looked like a good challenge. Over the years I have made many attempts. In my multiple attempts, I have taken wrong turns, fell 15 feet on one occasion, and faced frustration that would make most abandon it.

I hate the feeling that a mountain can beat me, so, I kept coming back for more. The first big challenge of climbing Merchant peak is finding the correct creek bed. From the Barclay Lake Trail, it will be several hundred feet past the bridge of Barclay creek. Most sources that I could find mention a “prominent” creek bed that you take. But, in the last few years, that creek bed has become overgrown and is no longer obvious or prominent.

start of the south gully scramble route merchant peak
start of the south gully
first waterfall on merchant peak climbing route
first waterfall in gully

During several attempts, I took the one right before the lake. If you make the same mistake, I can assure you things will not go well for you. Instead, be sure to check your maps for a Y shaped creek that comes down off the side of the mountain. At 47.78892, -121.43633, you will notice that the ground has more rocks than the rest of the forest. If you follow the faint trail of rocks for 100-200 feet into the woods it will become a creek bed.

Once in the correct creek bed, navigation becomes straightforward. The first few obstacles you will come to are the waterfalls so many people mention in their reports.

mount baring merchant peak
mount baring from merchant peak
second waterfall in the gully
second waterfall
third waterfall on the merchant peak climbing route
third waterfall

Waterfall 1 – Walk around to the left and there is a trail up and over. Waterfall 2 – Go to the right, work your way up to the cliffs and over the top of those falls.

Waterfall 3
– This is where the climb of Merchant Peak gets interesting. There are some large boulders jamming the area. On climbers left there is a way up. But, the handholds are small and setting protection would not be easy. To top it all off, all the rock in this small spot is very loose and sitting on top of sandy mud. One of the times I turned around it was because a huge boulder came free, caused me to fall and nearly crushed my foot. This time I got through okay. But, without serious comfort in precarious scrambling situations, I would not recommend you take Merchant peak on. There is no describing how loose the rock is.

Persis and Index seen from merchant peak
Persis and Mount Index
Meadows on Merchant peak climbing route
Meadows on merchant peak

Once past that third set of falls, continue to work up the gulley. After around 400 – 500 feet look to your right and you will see a small cave-like feature. This is where you will want to leave the main gulley. Work your way past the cave feature and pick up the faint climbers trail. For the next few hundred feet of elevation gain, the trail is obvious.

Many times I found myself using creek beds to avoid thick brush. There are all kinds of terrain to deal with from forest to rocks and open heather covered slopes. Go slow and just keep working your way up the best you can. Once you arrive at the meadows on the upper slopes of Merchant Peak the trail will disappear.

Most accounts I read say the trail was obvious through here, but, that also seems to have changed. There are some goat trails but they do little good. All I can say is work up the mountain and towards climbers left.

meadows on the upper slopes of merchant peak
meadows on upper slope
Merchant Peak summit block from the meadows
merchant peak summit block
merchant peak upper ridge line
View from ridge line

The best part of the Merchant Peak climb is the last 300 feet. There is some excellent scrambling on good solid rock. The view gets better with every step. Best of all, the feeling of finally making it created an outpouring of emotion I have not felt for a while.

final summit scramble on merchant peak
Final summit scramble
Merchant peak summit block
Summit block
gunn peak from the summit of merchant
gunn peak from the summit
Mount Townsend from the summit
Mount townsend from the summit
view north from the summit
summit view
summit shot of waterboy on merchant peak
summit photo
view of mount baring to the south from merchant peak
view of mount baring to the south
Rappel Ring in the gully
rappel ring at third waterfall
Rappel down the third waterfall
rappel down the third waterfall