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[TR] Townsend, E. Merchant, Merchant... then Baring - Merchant Northeast Gully 05/30/2021

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Trip: Townsend, E. Merchant, Merchant... then Baring - Merchant Northeast Gully

Trip Date: 05/30/2021

Trip Report:

Due to the predicted heavy snowfall at high elevations for the Memorial Day weekend @Albuquerque Fred, @MGraw and I decided on an easy trip from Mount Townsend over Merchant to Gunn and all the Gunn peaks. This turned out to be wildly optimistic. So we did the east part, then bailed down the Merchant standard gully to a trailhead camp, then did Baring the next day for a somewhat chill two day "long" weekend.

We hiked the Barclay Lake trail and the route (not quite a trail) up to Eagle lake, walked the west ridge of Mount Townsend, then following somewhat-remembered Beckey beta we went for Merchant. I kind of remembered that Beckey said it would go, but not what he said. Again, we thought this trip would be easy so we went light on beta. We traversed down from the Merchant-Townsend saddle to what looked like a hidden gully. It opened up to a beautiful mellow snow-filled gully all the way to the ridge crest. We (I at least) were stoked to have such a great route, it was a fantastic easy snow climb for 1100'.





Merchant from Townsend with the hidden gully between the east (left) and main peaks:



In the gully:



Topping out the gully:


We walked up East Merchant (because it was there), then climbed moderate snow to the summit of Merchant. It was 5:30 pm. I had hopes of descending a gully to the SW to the basin between Wing and Merchant to a camp, but it didn't look great and we had foolishly not brought a rope (it was supposed to be easy). The plan had been to descend the south gully and reascend the western branch to get over to Gunn, but it would have involved another 1000' of climbing and then some messiness. So we made the tough choice to bail to the car (good thing we had overnight gear for this day trip).


Baring from somewhere on Merchant:



Descending the south gully:




The south gully was not trivial anyway, so we still got to have some fun. I think this would be a great early spring route if you could nail the avalanche conditions, but it didn't seem like a very good route in these conditions to me. Maybe the party we saw the next day had a better time...?

We had to bail a hand line to get down a wet slab move onto a thin snow bridge over a very deep moat (the second waterfall I believe).

Fun was had by all at camp with manhattans and comfy shoes.


The next day we did Baring in prime conditions. It was basically all snow from 4400' to the summit. A very enjoyable scramble to great views. Would recommend. It was like climbing looks in photos with lunch in the warm sun on the summit and good comradery, rather than the grunting, wetness and agony climbing often is. 


Baring gully:



Easy snow near the top:



Index from Baring:



Gear Notes:
Axe, crampons, helmet, 10m handline (bailed in Merchant S gully), overnight gear for training weight on Merchant

Approach Notes:
Barclay Lake trail to Eagle Lake
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Looks like that was fun, thanks for posting!

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Nice. Why did you decide on Baring instead of Gunn? Wondering because I've never been up to Gunn and thought it might be a worthy outing if the conditions were right.


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A friend and I had planned to tackle the Gunn-Merchant traverse a few summers ago.  We did Gunn and decided it was too hot, too smokey and didn't trust Smoot.

Rad - Having done Baring and Gunn, Baring is much more straightforward route and legendary in Cascade lore.  Nobody knows where Gunn is or can pick it out on the skyline.  

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