Merchant Peak


Alpine Scramble - Merchant Peak

Merchant is one of my favorite scrambles, which I have led at least once a year for most of the last decade. It has a little bit of everything, brush, steep loose dirt and scree, delightful firm rock, berry-filled alpine meadows, great views in nice weather (and awesome views of the overhanging north face of Baring regardless of weather), a fun but not too difficult rocky summit, and excellent firm challenging rock in its main and side canyons. However, many people disparage Merchant because it does have some unavoidable loose scree and dirt, and it does have one steep and awkward T5 crux move. It's also unrelentingly steep: as one friend of mine memorably said, "My heels didn't touch the ground from the time we left the trail until the time we got back!" ...And it's MOSTLY off-trail!

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  • Strenuous 4, Technical 5
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 6.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,900 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,113 ft

We will meet at the Baring Store on Hwy 2.  This is on the right (south) side of the highway, on east past the TH and parking that most people will be familiar with from the Navigation field trip to Heybrook Ridge.  The store on about halfway along the LONG straight section of highway paralleling the BNSF railway tracks; the peak itself should be visible on your left/north.  The FS road we will be taking to the Barclay Lake TH is across from the store.  Again, all these places should be familiar from the maps and problem sets used for the Nav workshop.

Count on a minimum of a one and a half hour drive from the most-used Seattle park and ride locations, and allow a little extra time for traffic or coffee/bathroom stops, etc.

MEETING TIME: 6:30 am at the store.  We will want to be at the TH by 7 am and leave shortly thereafter (again, while this trip is relatively short in terms of round-trip mileage, it is steep, mostly off-trail, and at the upper end of technical for substantial portions due to loose rock, firm but challenging rock, a T5 crux that takes some time to negotiate, route-finding, and other fun but challenging terrain.  It's a full day and requires a reasonably early start.

See above.  All participants should have some experience with T5 rock and be prepared to deal with finding firm rock and steps amid some unavoidably loose rock, scree, and dirt.


Merchant Peak

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • The Ten Essentials
  • Helmet
  • Mountaineering Boots (sturdy approach shoes acceptable but you will want gaiters)
  • Ice Axe (probably won't need except for use as an aid to stability in steep areas, but please bring to the TH so that we can discuss the pros and cons)

    A minimum of two liters of water-carrying capacity, more if you know that you need lots of water to stay hydrated.  Leader will have a filter/pump.

    Scramble downclimbing kits: locking 'biner, cord loop, climbing harness or runner-made hasty harness.
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