Photos from this trip can be found here.
Five other cars in the parking area when I arrived, and presumably most parties, if not all, went to Baring Mountain or Barclay Lake. Briefly talked to another group of three that was also going up Merchant before the pup and I went on our merry way.
Detailed route descriptions can be found on summitpost.org so I won’t elaborate. Overall, the route was very straightforward, and for the most part we stayed in the main gully. The first waterfall was easy to get around via the climbers trail to its far right. But getting to the top of the second waterfall took some route finding for the pup, and eventually it required climbing over some chockstones on the left.
At 3950’ we got to the rock tower situated at the gully junction, where the joining gully came down from the right. That gully definitely looked inviting, but instead we stayed in the main gully, went up another 50 feet past the tower on its left, and enter into the cave-like overhang rock wall to access the climbers trail next to the wall. I was a little skeptical about the route until I saw a cairn placed in front of the rock wall.
Pup and I ran into a group of four Everett Mountaineers folks by the meadow as they were coming down. More snow appeared in the meadow, and thanks to those climbers I didn’t need to break trail from there all the way to the summit. We followed the fresh tracks up to the ridge and worked our way around the ridge rocks to the base of the summit rock. While traversing on the ridge I saw the old tracks from last weekend’s party on the snowfield down below, it certainly looked like an better way to bypass the ridge on the way down!
Summit was less windy than I anticipated, and the wind stopped not long after we arrived. The weather got better as the day progressed and I could see Baker, Glacier Peak, Rainier, and even Adams. Amazing views all around! The three climbers I met earlier in the parking area never showed up, hope they enjoyed their day nonetheless.