A Record-Setting Bike and Ski Expedition in the Cascades

Abe Greenspan rides off the summit of Mount Rainier, the last of three volcanoes he accessed by bicycle with skier Brody Leven.

On June 23, Brody Leven and Abe Greenspan completed the first human-powered multi-peak ski mountaineering expedition in the Cascades. The two friends started in Portland on June 10, biking a total of 481.24 miles to climb and ski Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier, in that order, before ending in Seattle. "It was the hardest 481 miles I've ever ridden," says Leven. He and Greenspan pedaled rigs weighing close to 200 pounds each, their panniers and bike trailers loaded down with camping and ski mountaineering gear.

In total, Leven and Greenspan ascended 51,810 feet during their 13-day journey. They spent 66 hours in the saddle and 36 hours on skis, either hiking up or skiing down the three iconic peaks. 

"We had it dialed in," says Leven. "We couldn't have gone any lighter than we did. There's a reason people don't commonly do trips like this. There's just no efficient way to bring all the necessary gear by bike. It's straight up hard work."

The hardest part, according to Leven, was biking up the three mountains' steep unpaved approach roads, particularly the loose dirt and sand en route to Mount Adams. But the downhills on the bike were the most treacherous. "With the weight we were carrying, our brakes were all but not working," Leven says. "Our rims were like fire to the touch."

Both Leven and Greenspan sustained multiple wipeouts on the bike. "They just didn't ride like regular bikes," Leven says. "If you looked over your shoulder to see if a car was coming and you wobbled a little bit, you were done for."

As for the skiing, Leven says that it was minimal. "We maybe spent a total of two hours across three mountains actually skiing."

While Leven isn't sure if he would recommend camping and cycling between mountains as a way to climb and ski multiple peaks, he says it's an inexpensive way to have an epic adventure. And he's learned some useful lessons. "Disc brakes, most definitely," he says. "And more calories. I hit that frustrating point on the bike where I felt like I just couldn't get full and all I could think about was pastry."