Forum Index > Trip Reports > Merchant Peak, Finally!!! - 7/10/2014
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Gimpilator
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1139 | TRs
Location: Edmonds, WA
Gimpilator
Member
PostThu Jul 10, 2014 10:52 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Just 2 days after the Townsend trip with Heather I hit the Blanca Lake trail again, this time solo.  I have attempted Merchant twice before via the south gully.  The first time our large group turned around because of whiteout conditions and rotten snow in the gully.  The second time was this last May.  I went with just one other person and we were very near the summit when 3 avalanches came down the gully within a 20 minute span.  I decided that the 3rd time I would go solo and without snow.

Baring looking badass
Baring looking badass
first step
1 label
first step

To quote dicey, "The south gully route on this peak is a miserably loose piece of crap...This would be a great route to take someone you want to break up with".  I entered the gully at the bottom of the south face and ascended the loose boulders to the first of 3 waterfall steps.  The first one is avoided on the left with a nice trail.  The second is bypassed on the right by scrambling up onto a ledge with numerous tree branches to hold onto.  The 3rd step is a pile of large boulders requiring one technical move on the far left side.  The advantage of snow is that you can avoid all these steps, but then you run the risk of cornices and avalanches.

1st snow obstacle
2 labels
1st snow obstacle
snow cave
snow cave
3rd step
2 labels
3rd step

I made my way past the steps.  The 2nd one made me just as nervous today as in previous attempts.  There was a snow obstacle before the second step that I had to scramble on slabs to get around.  Beyond the 3rd step I came to a very rotten loose slope which was also steeper than the rest of the gully.  All rocks in the gully tend to shift on you, but this slope was exceptionally bad.  I crossed it gingerly and sent many rocks along with dirt flying down with each step.

2nd snow obstacle
2nd snow obstacle
below the talus slope
below the talus slope

Beyond the rotten slope I came to the fork in the gully where it was time to turn right.  I scrambled up more rotten loose dirt and rocks.  The beginning of this gully has an overhang on the left and it's a partial cave.  When we were here in May it was snow free inside.  Above the cave section I passed through some trees with down-sloping slabs below and the drop-off beyond.  I continued to follow the gully upwards keeping the rock wall on my left.

upper heather slopes
upper heather slopes
views
views

I came to another snow obstacle and again I scrambled up some slabs to the right to get around it.  Above the slabs I entered another gully which opened up into a talus slope.  I scrambled up the loose talus and entered a smaller gully which ended abruptly in dense trees.  I traversed to the east and entered a second small gully and followed that to it's top.

summit area visible
summit area visible
how it looked back in May (this is where we saw 3 avalanches come down)
how it looked back in May (this is where we saw 3 avalanches come down)

I was now at the base of the open slopes on the upper south face.  All around were heather slopes and rock outcroppings.  Then I noticed someone scrambling above me.  I called out to him and he said a few thing which I couldn't understand.  Then he asked if he was going the right way and I told him I thought so.  I tried to follow what looked like a slight boot-path, but with all the goat hair stuck to bushes it seems like more of a goat trail.  It led up and to the right before circling back to the left through an opening in the rock outcroppings.

Bill, 78 year old soloist
Bill, 78 year old soloist
Bill (bottom right)
Bill (bottom right)

The summit area was now visible.  I made my way towards it stepping carefully on the steep heather slopes.  I noticed that the other man was now far below me.  His more direct route looked more difficult.  I came to the eastern ridge crest and followed the boot path through some trees and then past a couple of large snow patches.  The path ended at the base of a narrow exposed rock rib.  I scrambled the rib to the summit.  I could not find a register but I did take a number of photos.  I waited for awhile expecting the guy I had seen to show up, but he did not.

Townsend
Townsend
Gunn massif
Gunn massif
summit panorama
summit panorama
Chair, Kaleetan, Baring, Lennox and Rainier
Chair, Kaleetan, Baring, Lennox and Rainier
Index
Index
Daniel and Hinman
Daniel and Hinman
Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, Lemah
Summit Chief, Chimney Rock, Lemah
Gunn
Gunn
Gunnshy
Gunnshy
Vesper, Baker, Big Four, Sperry, Morning Star, Gothic, Del Campo
Vesper, Baker, Big Four, Sperry, Morning Star, Gothic, Del Campo
Sloan, Spire, Columbia, Monte Cristo, Kyes, Conglomerate Point
Sloan, Spire, Columbia, Monte Cristo, Kyes, Conglomerate Point
summit bliss
summit bliss
Grotto, Barclay and Baring
Grotto, Barclay and Baring

On the way down I ran into him.  He was taking a break.  He told me that his name was Bill and he was 78 years old.  He also said that this was his second attempt and that his first attempt ended badly when he got off-route and had to call for a helicopter rescue.  He said, "they were very nice and didn't even charge me anything".  Then he told me this was his first hike of the year and probably his last.  I asked him if he had enough water and if he had his cell phone with him.  Satisfied with that, I continued down.

the most loose section
1 label
the most loose section
below the 2nd step
below the 2nd step

I carefully retraced my route all the way back to the Barclay Lake trail.  There were a lot of places where I had to move slowly because everything was loose and there was some slight exposure here and there.  When I reached the bridge over Barclay Creek I stopped to soak my feet in the cool waters and finish the rest of my food.  I can honestly say that I'm glad this one is done and I won't be returning for a 4th time on the mountain.

--------------
http://www.summitpost.org/user_page.php?user_id=25744
http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ClimbListC.aspx?cid=2650&sort=elevft&u=ft&j=-1&y=9999

Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 6099 | TRs
Location: Stuck in the middle
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostThu Jul 10, 2014 11:08 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice report. I saved it in case I ever want to try this one. Maybe I'll wait until I'm 78.

--------------
Mid Fork Rocks flickr
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Fletcher
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Jul 2009
Posts: 1389 | TRs
Location: kirkland
Fletcher
Member
PostThu Jul 10, 2014 11:19 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ballsy dude! I am surprised to hear that you saw someone else up there. Even more surprised to hear that he was 78 years old, had been airlifted off Merchant once before, AND was trying it again, alone.

Cool to see the route I climbed a couple years back, melted out. Gnarly up there.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
olderthanIusedtobe
Member
Member


Joined: 05 Sep 2011
Posts: 5314 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
olderthanIusedtobe
Member
PostThu Jul 10, 2014 11:23 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Gimpilator wrote:
Just 2 days after the Townsend trip with Heather I hit the Blanca Lake trail again

Man, that's a long approach for Merchant from Blanca Lake!  winksmile.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Gil
Member
Member


Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 3625 | TRs

Gil
Member
PostThu Jul 10, 2014 11:57 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I've thought about trying that peak, but after reading your report ... not.

But exciting TR!

--------------
Friends help the miles go easier.
My most interesting images
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Visit poster's website Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Michael Lewis
Taking a nap



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
Posts: 428 | TRs
Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Michael Lewis
Taking a nap
PostFri Jul 11, 2014 2:57 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Congrats.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
iron
getting old



Joined: 10 Aug 2008
Posts: 5873 | TRs
Location: kenmore
iron
getting old
PostFri Jul 11, 2014 9:03 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
nice. i was just thinking about this trip, but then came across route info heading to merchant from the gunn peak trail which seems like it could be a good alternative to this mess.

--------------
man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Yana
Hater



Joined: 04 Jun 2004
Posts: 3999 | TRs
Location: Out Hating
Yana
Hater
PostFri Jul 11, 2014 1:47 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
iron wrote:
i was just thinking about this trip, but then came across route info heading to merchant from the gunn peak trail which seems like it could be a good alternative to this mess.

There is also a good scramble route via Eagle Lake.

--------------
PLAY SAFE! SKI ONLY IN CLOCKWISE DIRECTION! LET'S ALL HAVE FUN TOGETHER!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Dlab
Member
Member


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 75 | TRs
Location: Sultan
Dlab
Member
PostMon Jul 14, 2014 8:19 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Got this one on saturday as well, thank god for the cooling effect of that cave. The guy who led us up does it multiple times a year?!? No thanks.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > Merchant Peak, Finally!!! - 7/10/2014
  Happy Birthday User-Name, OutOfOffice!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy