This will be the last installment in a series of posts about our last big hurrah in the Stuart Range. If you missed out, check out the overview, a report on some adventure-neering up the south side of McClellan Peak, and a pioneering scramble up the south face of Enchantment’s Southwest Peak. This post is from day 6 of our trip, another great day of unknown adventure climbing at its finest. We topped out on two of the highest Knitting Needles and blazed a line up the South face of Little Annapurna Peak. Capped off with an amazing sunset this day was one I’ll not soon forget. Continue reading
Truth be told, the only rest day Liz and I took on our recent 7-night trip in the Enchantments was our first full day in the alpine. After slogging alongside Snow Creek and the 10-12 miles up to our base camp, a good meal and a nights rest were in order. When the next day dawned, I was up and ready, taking in the beautiful surroundings and turning over all the endless possibilities that may fill the days ahead. Although we both felt relatively well for having shouldered some big-ass packs for almost 5,000 vertical feet and 9 hours the day before, we thought it’d be wise to take a day to rest and recuperate, which took the form of a casual stroll up the broad Northeast shoulder of Little Annapurna Peak. The next day, ready for adventure, we tackled our first adventure, a combination of 5th class climbing and scrambling over the Nightmare Needles and up the convoluted Southern expanse of McClellan Peak. Check out the wright up here, or just look below, HA! Continue reading
It was our third day camped out in the headwaters of Crystal Creek. We were as close to the edge of the permit zone of the Enchantment Basin, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, as we could get. Two days ago we had left Leavenworth with 50+ pound packs, loaded with food, fuel, and enough climbing equipment to keep us busy for over a week. The awkward and oversized packs barely fit in our bicycle trailers and the thought of flat tires was a real threat on my mind. We reached the trailhead without incident, and began the slog-fest to the high peaks above. The 10+ mile approach took about 9 hours, and I was happy we made for an early start when around 5 o’clock in the evening we found a suitable spot, hidden, out of the way, and near abundant fresh water. My ass had suffered, with at least one spot rubbed raw by the oversized expedition pack I was carrying. Without a scale I’ll never know exactly how much my pack weighed, but my earlier excitement with carrying two ropes, 9 days of food, a tent, bag, and daypack had turned into happiness that I hadn’t injured myself carrying all this gear that most likely topped out at over 70 lbs, and was, hopefully, the heaviest pack I’ll ever carry.
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