Marmots-Have they destroyed your gear?

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    Brad W
    BPL Member


    Planning a trip soon in the Sierra. I have heard about marmots eating car wiring at certain trailheads. What about damaging your gear while you are away from your site? I plan on setting up camp and bagging a few peaks in a quasi-heavy marmot area. Food will be in bear can far away from tent. Has anyone had issues with them getting into tents and or other gear while you were away?

    Jon Fong
    BPL Member


    Locale: FLAT CAT GEAR

    Somewhat.  I have had marmots nibble on packs and shoes.  I think that it is the residual salt that attracts them.  I have heard many stories about the Mineral King parking lot and the elaborate things people do to protect their cars.  Good luck.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I’ve hiked for decades in the Sierra. Never had an issue with marmots. I would leave my boots in the tent vestibule all night too. And fairly often would day hike away from my tent filled with a bag and other clothes I wasn’t using. Of course I’ve seen them go after food people left out unprotected. They’re everywhere.

    That said, maybe I’ve jsut been lucky!

    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
    Jo P.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Denver, CO

    I have had some nibbling issues for sure, though I’m not sure all of them were marmots.

    One of my trips, a friend was using her trekking pole as an extra tent stake. In the morning it had the foam chewed off it.

    Another trip, something bit through one of the tie-outs on my tent, then chewed a hole in another corner of the tent and bit into my hydration bladder. I woke to a wet tent floor and much confusion. Amazingly, all this happened while I was sleeping (I wear earplugs). The beast would have been about three inches from my head. It was bizarre; there was no food and nothing scented in the tent. I can only assume that some salt or food residue from my hands got on the tent/bladder.

    Another trip, I set my hydration bladder down and stepped away to take some pics, and when I returned the bite valve had a chunk chewed out of it. Didn’t see what did it.

    Another time… okay, this is a long story. My friends and I had climbed off-trail to an alpine lake and decided we should jump in. So we undressed to our birthday suits. The water was freezing and we got right out, but since it was a hot day one friend suggested we put only our boots back on and explore for a bit as nature made us (we were in the middle of nowhere, after all). I had wandered around to the other side of the lake when I heard yelling. I turned to see that a marmot had my shirt in its mouth and was running down the mountain with it, and my naked friends were running after it. Eventually the marmot dropped the shirt and I did not have to finish our trip topless.

    All these were in the CO rockies. I now bring even my shoes in the tent at night—though clearly a layer of nylon is no protection against a determined critter.

    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wine Country

    I think the big issue in SEKI is around Mineral King.  The ranger station there even has a separate storage shed where people leave tarps and other protective gear, so that you can wrap your car.  It is primarily an issue early in the season, when there is little else for the marmots to eat.

    We hiked out of there early in the season a few years ago, but parked 1/2 mile from the trailhead.  The ranger seemed to think we would be fine there.  But one of the other cars lost a brake or hydraulic line to the critters…and it’s a long, expensive tow to get out of there.

    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    People feed them because they’re cute and they can get better pictures that way. I took a break up on Donahue Pass, and was immediately surrounded by aggressive marmots. I had to keep my pack between my knees. After that I didn’t do any snack breaks on summits. The buggers are worse where people congregate.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    AK Granola, I don’t doubt you for a moment. I’ve taken a snack break on Donahue pass at least 30 times–really!– and never had a marmot encounter. I’ve seen them for sure!  It’s possible I smell too bad for marmots to want to approach…?

    W I S N E R !
    BPL Member


    I’ve had marmots chew my trekking pole handles and a shoe, but I’ve never had issue with a parked vehicle.

    Daryl and Daryl
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth

    OK, I’ll add another story.

    Brother and I are in the tent with his boots under the vestibule.  Marmot runs under vestibule, grabs a boot and takes off.  Brother yells “Wolverine” and freezes.


    I yell “no. marmot” and my brother takes after the marmot in his stocking feet.  Scared marmot drops boots.

    BPL Member


    Locale: montana

    Marmots destroyed my wife’s trekking pole handles (salt)… they’re aggressive little bastids and I do my best to let them know they’re not welcome around our camps (which I’m sure they find highly amusing).

    Scott Roach
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bay area

    This happened to a friend’s set of trekking poles a week ago in Dusy Basin in the Sierra during a day hike.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    I love Daryl’s brother mistaking a marmot for a wolverine. “Wa’ll, I’m  here to tell ya about the time I faced down a passel of wolverines in the wilderness ’round Tuolumne meadows….li’l bastards nearly chewed my boot off, but I got ’em!…etc….”

    p.s. clearly I’m wrong about not worrying about marmots! The pictures above tell the tale.

    matthew k


    I was sitting at at the top of Forester Pass near the sign in late June, 2015. A group of hikers was summiting from the south and there was a young woman who loudly exclaimed “oh no another marmot! They hate me!” (Truthfully there was a couple expletives in what she really said).

    Everyone turned and looked at the high spot where the marmot was peering down from. As she hit the high spot of the trail the marmot rolled a cantelope size boulder down at her. She screamed “see what I mean?” and the dozen or so people just absolutely lost it. It was hysterically funny, like a scripted moment from a sitcom.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Colorado

    “Has anyone had issues with them getting into tents and or other gear while you were away?”

    Yes. As a matter of fact, in areas where they are more habituated to human presence, I’ve had them come right into camp and try to take food and, once, my pack. We also had a hole chewed in our tent while climbing a nearby peak. I believe this was a marmot as when we returned to camp there were two of them rummaging around. A NPS ranger suggested using predator urine around camp as a deterrent.  I’ve haven’t tried that yet, but it does work in my garden to keep local cats away. I generally try to avoid camping in marmot country if I’m going to be leaving camp for long. My bigger fear is marmots and rabbits messing with my vehicle.

    David Sugeno
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Texas

    I came under attack by marauding marmots in the Sangre de Cristo wilderness a few years ago.  They came into my tarp at night and stole my headlamp (not cool), and chewed  holes in my shirt and my hat.  They also swiped the storage sack for my stove.  I never found the sack or the headlamp.  The next day they came into camp and chewed on my trekking pole handles, and trying to find food.  I could not get rid of them.  I would poke one with my trekking pole, and he would move a few feet off, and then turn and glare at me, and come right back.  Eventually I just packed up and left.  The whole thing was both sinister and comical at the same time.


    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    My bigger fear is marmots and rabbits messing with my vehicle.

    One took out a brake line at a northern NM trailhead a few years back (road curved down steeply … bet that was a “fun” discovery/passing Type 3 fun now)  and I noticed when parking in the Colorado backcountry (Weminuche) some vehicles were surrounded in chicken wire to prevent them from inadvertently sabotaging a brake or other line.

    Pack rats are a problem in metro Tucson eating electrical wiring in parked cars, so betting they could be an issue out in the AZ sticks too.

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