Type: Trad, Alpine, 800 ft, 5 pitches, Grade III
FA: Peter Croft and Lisa Rands - 8/2011
Page Views: 6,195 total · 78/month
Shared By: Luke Stefurak on Jul 10, 2012
Admins: Chris Owen, Lurker, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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This route takes an improbable and steep line straight up the North Buttress of Merriam. This was originally reported to the AAC as the Croft-Rands Left. After one approach pitch there are four stunning pitches of steep cracks and exciting moves before the route rejoins the North Buttress route.

P1. 5.8 45m From the small ledge on top of the toe of Merriam head up a shallow dihedral for 50 feet before stepping right around the corner onto easier ground. Continue up until you can step left onto a decent ledge. There is a balanced loose block on the left side of the ledge.

P2. 5.11 30m
This pitch is visible from the ground and the P1 belay. For refernece you can see a piton halfway up the first seam/corner. From the belay traverse left past a large balanced block. Move past the block with care to reach a thin crack. Layback up past the piton to a small alcove with more opportunities for gear. Tricky moves lead to a stance and a thin hands crack that takes you left towards a roof. Belay at a small ledge with two fixed nuts and small gear.

P3. 5.11 40m
This is the incredible roof crack pitch visible from the ground. Work up a 4" crack in pristine granite towards the roof. Plug and chug out the steep hands roof until the angle kicks back and you are rewarded with 30' of blissful hands. The crack thins down to 1" and a set of face holds appear to the left. Traverse across these carefully to another crack. This thin hands crack leads you through a small roof (cruxy). Build a belay when possible.

P4. 5.11- 40m
Pitch four follows a large flake system also visible from the ground which then becomes two amazing thin fingers cracks at the end of the pitch. From the belay work up the flakes climbing carefully due to some brittle rock. A steep section in the middle adds excitement before the crack starts to pinch out at the end. A technical and thin crux, with occasional face holds, leads you to a large sloping ledge and a comfortable belay.

P5. 5.11 25m
The golden face above the belay is the the final obstacle before the larger cracks that lead to the summit. Crimp and finesse your way up the face, placing barely enough gear to keep you off the deck. After 10 feet, a few good pods open up and you are rewarded with killer jugs. Romp up the golden granite and take a step of faith across stacked blocks to gain another killer ledge.

P6. 5.10 60m
There are two options here and we took the left side since it looked cleaner. They meet up after about 50 feet of climbing.

Follow the wide crack on the left using the arete to gain a small ledge with many loose blocks. Continue up the corner until you meet up with the North Buttress route a the first, and easier, of two offwidths. Save your large gear for the second and plug your way up the wide cracks. Eventually you will reach easier ground and the detached summit block.

An exciting traverse, under the massive summit block, leads right to the summit ridge where you can build a belay.

P7/8 - 5.5
Additional traversing is required to get to the true summit. This section is shared by all routes and is about 500' with occasional moves up to 5.5


This route climbs the skyline of the North Buttress. The first pitch is just right of the start of that route.

After gaining the ridge the standard traverse is required to get to the true summit of Merriam.


Double set of cams from Green C3 to #2 Camalot. Single #3 camalot and #4 camalot or #4 friend.
Small nuts useful.
Extra #1 or #2 camalot


leeds, ut
fossana   leeds, ut
Thanks for the page and great pics, Luke.
-Michelle Sep 23, 2012
Luke Stefurak
Seattle, WA
Luke Stefurak   Seattle, WA
Totally rad line, hopefully more people will get on it! It is so amazing that all the pitches link up.

The North Buttress + Flying Buttress is a killer way to spend a weekend at Merriam. Both routes have very steep climbing for the Sierra!

Edit: Got the update from Croft. It's called the Flying Buttress. He said the other route named Gargoyle, aka Croft-Rands Right, is even better. Guess I need to go back!

Trip Report:
tradgnar.com/finding-advent… Oct 22, 2012
Chris Owen
Big Bear Lake
Chris Owen   Big Bear Lake  
Wow - not to be confused with this Flying Buttress Mar 1, 2013
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Or this Flying Buttress.

Hope to do the Sierra version someday. Anything put up by Croft will be amazing. Mar 16, 2013
Ross Peritore
San Diego, CA
Ross Peritore   San Diego, CA
Absolutely stellar route! Beautiful steep splitters on an amazing buttress.
Also climbed the Croft-Rands Right, another **** alpine gem! Aug 28, 2013
Josh Janes

Josh Janes    
A good route but maybe not a classic: some questionable rock and two hanging belays (one of which can be eliminated with a 70m rope) detract, but the roof pitch is memorable and there are several other fun sections. Soft for the grade?

P1: 5.8
P2: 5.10d
P3: 5.10c
P4: 5.10c
P5: 5.11a
P6: 5.10a

Link P3 (the hand crack roof/face traverse) and P4 (the long flake/short finger crack) with a 70 to eliminate one of the hanging belays. Jul 24, 2014
Karsten Duncan
Sacramento, CA
Karsten Duncan   Sacramento, CA
Agree with Josh that it might not be a mega classic. According to the summit log we were likely the 11th-12th ascent of this line so would expect some flakes and general crustiness but there are some sections where you have to avoid some spooky stuff. Still, generally nice rock, moves, position, and a route worth doing.

Also agree with Josh on grades, pitch 2 might even be 5.10b. Rack of C4 doubles to #2 and one #3, #4 worked great for us.

With a 70m we linked Pitch 1-2 in a rope stretcher and then 3-4 with just a few feet to spare.

Beta alert.
On last 5.11 face pitch got in a good .75 on the left of the two cracks and then a hard to see but good blue metolius master cam a body length up in the right crack. After that climbing eases and pro gets more plentiful. No need for micro stuff. Aug 17, 2015
Ben Kraft
San Francisco, CA
Ben Kraft   San Francisco, CA
P2 piton is gone - finicky purple C3 / BD 5-6 stopper sized pieces replace it. We thought this pitch deserves its 11 rating (possibly height dependent).

Great route! Sep 18, 2017