When we arrived in Leavenworth this spring, it was the first time either Liz or myself had ever seen the town, the Stuart Range, or the Cascades. A dry ski season had left us with strong legs, weak butts, and a voracious appetite for climbing. With only our bicycles for transportation our appetite was indeed larger then our ability for those first few weeks. Slowly we worked our way into the season with short trips up the Tumwater and Icicle canyons, the packs on our backs were heavily laden with gear. Hobo’s Gulch, Clem’s Holler, Castle Rock, Pearly Gates, we methodically worked our way up the road, each ride a little farther, each climb a little harder. After a while we wised up and put some slick tires on our bikes and threw down some dough for a couple of B.O.B. trailers to get the gear off our backs and save our asses some unnecessary pain. We’ve come a long way since those first weeks of this human powered season, our cycling has become more efficient, faster, and more pleasurable, and our climbing has improved in the same ways. Not only the physical nature of our trips has increased though, the mental toughness required to undertake a multi night adventure in this style is demanding. Should either of us be hurt or otherwise compromised, we’re a long walk and ride from town. The more we’ve become accustomed to this risk and accepted its many challenges, physical and mental, the more successful, exciting, and purely awesome our trips have become. On our most recent bicycle-powered excursion into the Stuart Range, we wanted to push the envelope even farther by undertaking a committing alpine climb, from town, all human power, in one day. We aimed high, and were rewarded with one of the finest climbs, and most rewarding experiences of the summer. Continue reading
Who remembers their first time riding a bike? Although most of my childhood memories exist as snapshots and short films in my mind, I can pretty well recall my first experiences of two wheeled ecstasy. While my trike and training wheel days might be lost in the haze, that first time I managed to balance and pedal my way across the front lawn has stuck with me to this day. The sheer delight of those few moments being pushed between my mother and father, and eventually learning to roam around under my own body’s power are powerful memories that I’ll be hard pressed to forget.
Sounds like the beginning to a children’s story, but these two peaks help form the quartet of spires that is the Rat Creek Group. This collection of towers lies just a few short miles from Icicle Road as the crow flies, but a world away when you consider the trail less expanse of bushwhacking and blow downs separating it from would-be climbers. For our first single day alpine attempt, town to town, human powered, we chose the Mole, the largest in this quartet of spires lying just in view from the bottom of the canyon. Continue reading
Finding an “off the beaten track” adventure in the Stuart Mountains can be a challenging experience. The popularity and history of this small range have worked to make for an accessible, well known group of mountains. There are, however, a few areas that receive little attention and fewer people then the well known basins and crags of this classic alpine paradise. The drainage of the east fork of mountaineer creek, between Argonaut and Sherpa peaks is one of these places. Combine this with the challenge of a completely human powered approach and you’ve got yourself a weekend. Liz and i set out with a few scraps of route info and headed into this lesser known corner of our backyard. Continue reading