Merchant Peak


Alpine Scramble - Merchant Peak

A classic, gnarly North Cascades alpine scramble with a little of everything -- lots of loose rock, some snow, some alpine meadows, some summit rock, stunning views of the overhanging north wall of Baring and a centrally-located situation to feast the eyes on everything between Rainier and Baker.

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  • Strenuous 4, Technical 5
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,900 ft

Meet at the Baring store on US 2 at 7 am.  Email the leader if unsure of this location (basically if you're eastbound on highway 2 with the BNSF tracks running just to your left and you can look up and left and see Baring Peak, then you're getting pretty darn close -- look for my grey Chrysler PT Cruiser parked on the right hand side of the road).

We'll head out the FS road to the Barclay Lake TH (surely you remember this TH from the Navigation workshop problem set!), and will try to head out from the TH by 7:30 am.  The first part of the route follows the Barclay Lake trail to and a few hundred yards beyond the major creek crossing on the engineered foot-bridge.  Then we'll head off-trail to the left/north and up a rock-fall to the main gully.  We'll route around two waterfall/pour-offs, possibly on consolidated snow at times and up steep loose rock to a right/east-branching side gully, also steep and loose, that leads up to beautiful high alpine meadows where mountain goats are occasionally seen.  We'll then turn left/west high in the cirque to pick up the summit ridge and the "true" peak of Merchant, which is solid, stable rock sometimes protected by steep snow at this point in the season.

One of my friends (after successfully completing this peak) commented that "my heels never touched the ground from the time we left the trail till the time we got back!"  In other words, it's a short but exceptionally steep and sporty scramble: S4, T5 (mainly for the loose gully sections), almost 4,000 feet of gain in only seven miles round trip.

Because of the loose rock, the trip is limited to six participants (in addition to the leader and co-leader).  You will need to bring your A game for this edgy, sporty, awesome scramble experience.  Students welcome, but please bring decent to better conditioning, a willing attitude, and a hefty amount of respect, mindfulness, and attention to detail.

The weather forecast looks awesome!  Come and get it!

See above.  If any questions about your abilities or conditioning, please communicate with the leader.  This really is a beautiful scramble experience, but one that needs to be taken seriously and respectfully for maximum enjoyment!


Merchant Peak

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • The Ten Essentials
  • Helmet
  • Mountaineering Boots
  • Ice Axe
  • Three liters of water
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and determination
Trip Reports