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Trip Report    

Merchant Peak

  • Sat, Aug 16, 2014
  • Merchant Peak
  • Scrambling

We took the standard gully route, the standard driving directions, etc. After meeting at the Baring Store on hwy 2 about milepost 41 at 7 a.m., we caravanned out to the Barclay Lake TH (Forest Park passes required). We left the TH around 7:30, spent an hour at the summit or in longer breaks, and returned to the TH around 6 pm, for travel time of about 9.5 hours. We had a total party of eight, which is at the upper limit of what I would recommend for this trip, due to rockfall concerns in and just above the main gully. There was very little snow on the trip (some stagnant patches of ice in the main gully, a modest snow patch at the very bottom of the alpine meadow, and a small snow patch just below the rock block of the summit), so ice axes were not needed. Rock helmets certainly were needed, as always. One mountain goat was briefly sited, with lots of sign, including fur and scat. This is consistent with Chris Pribbernow's recent report, in a comment on the Alpine Scrambling facebook page, of a siting of a goat high on Baring: the goats seem to have figured out that these peaks are now under Wilderness designation and are thus safe from hunters. The group was frequently reminded to use techniques and mindfulness to prevent rockfall -- nonetheless, one minor injury (no on-site treatment or medical attention necessary; no delay to the progress of the party ) was suffered due to party rockfall, as well as a couple of minor scrapes and bruises. This incident has been reported. The only other concern encountered was in relation to the hot temperatures and water consumption: although all party members had been encouraged to bring three liters of water, some party members began to run low/out of water before returning to the cars -- water was shared as necessary and breaks taken in whatever shade was available on the descent. In retrospect, given that there is almost always water trickling in the main gully and side creek (not to mention the availability of snow), I should probably have made provision for someone to bring a water filter/pump. Our instructor Jill Reeder acted as assistant leader and did a creditable job helping to keep the group together, encourage slower party members, etc.