North Buttress 5.10b/c
Trip ReportMerriam Peak North Buttress 07-06-13
When I moved to CA in 2009 I bought the Fiddler/Moynier High Sierra book to get an idea of what the high Sierra had to offer. 2 formations really struck me and reminded me why I climbed in the first place; Merriam Peak was one of them.
The remoteness and relative lack of info on the climb added to the allure but I knew I had quite a bit work to do improving my (lack of) trad skills before heading up to the North Buttress. Fast forward a few years and lots of valley/Tuolumne time and I was ready to make the long slog up Pine Creek to Royce Lakes.
The prior weekend I got the opportunity to climb with someone I've always respected and we managed an 18hr 20 min trip up the RNWF of Half Dome so I figured I would be solid for the North Buttress; I just needed a partner. Somehow I managed to convince someone with 3 compressed disks and no cartilage in their right knee to make a 10 mile approach.
With the long 4th of July weekend we decided to make a comfortable trip of it and camp up at Royce lakes.
Despite having done more committing climbs, Merriam still gave me a few jitters when looked up at it the next morning. It's a rather imposing peak and the route isn't as obvious as I expected (yes, the triple cracks pitch is obvious but the entrance and exit not so much). I thought we had the entire peak to ourselves but as we approached we realized there was a party ahead of us. They were just starting up the Flying Buttress, which looks very rad.
The next few pitches offer a bit of wandery ridge traversing. There is a great short section of pure knife edge ridge traversing but by that point we were too hungry to stop and take a few pics. This summit is quite nice too.
We did the route in 7 hours, certainly no speed record but it made for a great day. In the end, I was grateful to have been able to finally tick off a climb I had admired for several years, but even more grateful to have been able to do it with a great partner. I can't imagine doing that hike (both ways) with such a significant knee injury and that alone was the most impressive part of the trip!
P.S.: This past weekend I got an up close look at the other climb that struck me from the Fiddler/Moynier book and I nearly pooped my pants,... I've got some serious wide training to do!
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