Brawling Boards -- Are skinny skis, fat skis, snowshoes, or splitboards the fastest roundtrip tool? See a slideshow of the event.
What a difference a few days makes. Powder snow smothered the Wenatchee foothills on Wednesday night, but by Friday, the day before Brawling Boards – The Twin Peaks Dash, the weather was proving to be a real Chinook. Temperatures were in the 40s, streams of water ran down city streets, and nearly a foot of snow disappeared into thin air.
Meanwhile, skiers and snowshoers who had been expressing interest in the Brawling Boards – the quest to see who could make the roundtrip dash up and down Twin Peaks the fastest – were evaporating as fast as the snow. With the game day weather forecast calling for rain, emails were flowing in from skiers who claimed their dogs had eaten their skis, or an old knee injury had just flared up, or an unannounced visitor was making an unexpected visit.
Despite these bailing brawlers of little faith and faint hearts, a total of 24 people did show up on Saturday, January 15, to partake in the first Twin Peaks Dash. Among these participants were very different strategies about how to best crack the Twin Peaks nut. One participant started running up the ice-crusted bottom section of the route and switched to snowshoes farther up as the snow softened and deepened. A half dozen people used snowshoes from start to finish. The majority, however, came in all manners of skis from skinny, track-oriented Nordic skis, to very wide powder-oriented Alpine touring skis, and with all weights of telemark and randonnee skis in between.
Photo by Drew Gaylord. Carolyn Gonsky takes the final steps to meet a gaggle of penguins already atop Twin Peaks.
Of particular amusement, however, were the two outliers attending the event. On one end of the spectrum was the oldest participant, Bill Whitlow, 66, who came with light boots and ski poles expecting the icy morning conditions to support him long enough to get up and off the peak with very little foot paraphernalia weighing him down. The strategy worked at first but, 2.5 miles up the 4-mile ascent, the snow softened enough for the old gray goat to flounder. Even so, Whitlow was the fifth person to make the summit. On the opposite end of the spectrum – i.e., the heavy, technologic end – was Kevin Piasecki. Piasecki was not only part of the only team to travel from Seattle, he also completed the route on a splitboard.
Were awards to be given for the craziest way to complete the Twins, it would be a hard choice between the geriatric, low-tech Bill and the far-traveling, high-tech Kevin.
Photo: The tough, and perhaps thickheaded, Bill Whitlow. "I don't need no stinken slowshoes."
Other teams of note included: ‘Team Smith’ (Steve and Leigh Smith, Eric Smith, and Carolyn Gonsky); ‘Man and Dog’ (Michael Hansen and pooch); ‘Team Anonymous’ (a snowshoer skipping work for ‘fun?’); ‘Team Essick’ (squinty-eyed Don Essick and peanut-butter-powered Tricia Essick), and the ironic ‘Team Powderhound’(Cathy and Drew Gaylord) who found not a single flake of powder along the way.
Given the crusty snow conditions of the day that favored skins for grip on the ascent and good downhill control for the descent, randonnee equipment proved to be a winning choice on Saturday. Posting the fasted moving time was Team Tomandy (Tom Janisch and Andy Dappen). Janisch was fastest in both directions and, following in his sonic wake, was teammate Dappen. Total moving time for the duo was roughly two hours, but with all participants stopping to mingle and chat at the top, the clock was mainly ignored.
Photo: Tom Janish (left) was first to the top, Don Essick third. Both were incredibly quick about flashing their sponsorship ties.
Team Anonymous made the fastest roundtrip snowshoeing circuit while, among those donning cross-country skis, Team Essick kicked serious butt. Also impressive were, Kevin Piasecki dominating the splitboard division and his wife, Julie, who was far-and-away the fastest woman from Seattle.