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Merriam peak descent

Original Post
earl mcalister · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 186

How steep is the approach to the face/descent from Merriam Peak? Heading in there next week expecting snow. Trying to decide whether we need ice axes.

Jeremy R · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 25
  • The approach isn't steep, the descent isn't that steep either. If I remember correctly, there's a few steepish sections once you cross the pass heading down. Obviously, we may have different definitions of "steep", I could see the descent with snow as steep! 
Jeremy R · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 25

Forget all I've said, I've only been up there with no snow. If there's snow up there you might want to bring snow gear.

Ben Kraft · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 34

I was up there in September of the last big snow year. There was still a ton of snow but obviously not as much as right now so ymmv. I wouldn't bring any gear for the descent: parts of it bake and the parts with snow were low angle and kinda fun. That said, getting up to the two 11s felt pretty Alpine: the easy approach pitches were absolutely caked in. I think these would probably be about the same right now but I'd definitely hike crampons out to base camp just in case and be ready to back off if things are too sketchy.

Professor L · · Atlanta · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 30

Earl-
Not sure if you've already been out and back. But I'd be curious of a report. Also about the mosquito report ;)

Tons of snow on every approach I've been on this season. But it's all so soft by now, even in the morning kicking steps w/approach shoes has been easy. With the shade that the north buttress gets I wonder if it's a different story. 

earl mcalister · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 186
Professor Snax wrote: Earl-
Not sure if you've already been out and back. But I'd be curious of a report. Also about the mosquito report ;)

Tons of snow on every approach I've been on this season. But it's all so soft by now, even in the morning kicking steps w/approach shoes has been easy. With the shade that the north buttress gets I wonder if it's a different story. 

Mosquitos are thick until Pine Creek / Italy pass (depending on the chosen approach). One creek crossing required taking the shoes off and wading and they really attacked us there. Snow was soft and huge sun cups. No snow gear required for approach or descent.

Professor L · · Atlanta · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 30
earl mcalister wrote:

Mosquitos are thick until Pine Creek / Italy pass (depending on the chosen approach). One creek crossing required taking the shoes off and wading and they really attacked us there. Snow was soft and huge sun cups. No snow gear required for approach or descent.

Indeed, the mosquitos were relentless. Especially during the creek crossings; like sitting ducks, we were! 

But the climbing was spectacular. And the snow made for a quick glissade. A most agreeable and straight forward descent.  

splitclimber · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 17


a really cool, but longer alternative to the col/snow descent is to go out the SW ridge (3rd class), then down the south/south east, mostly sand/gravel slopes to the lower Royce lakes and check out the waterfall.

two weeks ago the col still had snow and got shaded around 4pm.  probably easy to descend without axe or crampons, but hard to know without getting closer to check out the slope angle and softness of the snow

only looked to be about 10-20 feet of snow to access the start of the north butress

we climbed the NE ridge (5.7), then traversed into the top of the east face for the last 2 pitches.  this was an adventurous, choose your own path type of climb, which had some good and sketch climbing to a great summit
Brad MacArthur · · Big Bear City, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 60
Just climbed this 9/1.  Snow free approach.  Descent several hundred yards of low angle snow field and we were able to walk down the snow in approach shoes and it was about 7pm.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern California
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