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Routes in Merriam Peak

Direct North Buttress T 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
Dr. Bear Love Project T 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c C1
Flying Buttress, The T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Foundation Crack, The T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Gargoyle T 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13
Triple Cracks Project T 5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c C1
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Type: Trad, Alpine, 750 ft, 7 pitches
FA: Peter Croft & Lisa Rands - August, 2011
Page Views: 1,049 total · 22/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Jul 24, 2014
Admins: Chris Owen, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes

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Gargoyle is the second, and harder, and better, of the pair of new routes that Peter Croft and his alpinist protege Lisa Rands established on Merriam Peak in the summer of 2011. This route has great, clean climbing on every pitch after the first "approach" pitch - and the two crux pitches in particular are stellar. Decent gear, comfortable belay perches, and warm afternoon sun round out the package!

Begin by scrambling to the highest point above the "toe" of Merriam Peak's North Buttress.

P1 (5.8, 175'): This pitch is mostly the same as for the Flying Buttress. Climb a chunky left-facing corner until it narrows and becomes easy to traverse right around the arete, out of the corner, and onto easier ground on the west side of the buttress. Zig-zag up blocks and loose rock and establish a belay in an appropriate place to set your team up for the next pitch: The key here is that you want to belay below an obvious wide (4-5") crack that is formed by the left edge of a big, wedged flake. The bottom of this flake also happens to form an undercut "roof" feature that makes getting into this wide crack tricky.

P2 (5.10a, 100'): Climb up to the flake and gain the wide crack on its left side. Doing this without a #4 Camalot is unprotectable. If you bring the #4 you'll be able to use it here and probably be able to dump it on several other pitches up higher; otherwise, boldly lieback up into the crack... Once you're in there you'll have perfect knee locks and hand-fist stacks so the climbing feels really secure. Above this wander up past a couple ledges (one of which is sloping) and through broken, vague, right-facing corners and pillars to the highest sensible stance nestled amongst some loose blocks.

P3 (5.9, 70'): Above you is a corner with a short, steep handcrack - climb it. At its end, hand traverse left out of the corner and mantle up and around the arete into the next corner over where you'll discover two excellent belay ledges. The lower ledge takes big gear, the upper ledge takes smaller gear. Note: It may be possible to climb directly up to this belay ledge by stepping left from the previous belay immediately and climbing the lefthand corner. This is not how the FA party went and it would also present the hazard of the rope running over a sharp arete, but the corner does look good.

P4 (5.11a, 120'): Climb the spectacular thin corner via stemming and good finger locks. At a small roof-like feature, shake out and move right (cruxy!) and continue up via brilliant, steep finger locks. At the top of the corner pull up and right around a steep slot-feature, then immediately step back left to an amazing belay ledge. Save your two #3 Camalots for this belay. My partner compared this pitch favorably to Coarse and Buggy in J-Tree. This pitch is easily as good and twice as long!

P5 (5.10a, 90'): Climb a physical wide crack (good jams in deep) up to a sloping, tiered ledge system. Extend your belay down and right 15' so you can be directly below the next pitch.

P6 (5.11b PG13, 120'): Climb another physical splitter (some lichen and flakies here) to an awkward stance at the base of an intimidating right-facing corner with a flared finger crack. Climb this finger crack - at first using liberal chimneying, then committing to the jams. Up high you'll be able to rest in a slot before a final stretch up to a roof. Pay attention here!!! It seems obvious to pull through the roof; instead, arrange high pro and summon your inner monkey and hand traverse wildly rightwards under the roof before mantling up onto a wonderful ledge. This section is exciting and pumpy, and probably a little dangerous for the second as there is no pro on the traverse and a fall from the initial, difficult moves would result in a spectacular and bumpy swing across the wall. Oh yeah, and it's nice to have at least a 0.75 and #1 Camalot for this belay.

P7 (5.8, 60'): From the right end of the ledge, climb a pleasant hand crack up to the right edge of the huge pointy block that caps the ridge. Belay from a nice ledge next to the block.

Simul, pitch out, or solo the ridge line to the summit.


On the right side of Merriam Peak's striking North Buttress. The route actually faces west and receives afternoon sun.


1x Purple, Green, and Red C3's
2x 0.3 to #3 Camalots
Optional #4 Camalot
A set of wires and plenty of draws and slings


Will M.
Will M.   Oakland
This is a super cool route that will be even better after it's climbed a bit more and all the flakies are gone.

-We were really happy to have doubles in BD C3s and brassies since both crux pitches involve tips cracks in dihedrals.
-We brought a #4 but it was too small for the (very short) OW section on P2 which involved maybe one true hand/fist stack and one heroic lieback but otherwise was over really quickly.
-PG13 rating is justified since the traverse moves are straight horizontal to the belay, however, as of August 2017 there is a fixed nut and double length runner that we used to reach better holds making it much less scary. Aug 13, 2017

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