8,000 Meter Challenge Attempt

July 2012

Striking up memories of failed goal attempts can actually lead to more motivation and desire for success.  Last summer I failed at completing the 8,000 meter challenge; a goal I really wanted to obtain.  I’m taking another crack at it this summer and as the days go by I’m just getting more stoked.  While I was in good shape last year, some unforseen circumstances occurred that I wasn’t mentally prepared for.

Mt. Baldy stage of the 8,000 meter challenge.  This is not an exaggerated angle.

Mt. Baldy stage of the 8,000 meter challenge. This is not an exaggerated angle. Photo courtesy of Dax Ross.

Here’s the breakdown of the fun.  The 8,000 meter challenge consists of summiting SoCal’s 3 highest peaks in one day (Mt. Baldy @ 10,069′ via Manker Flats; Mt. San Jacinto @ 10, 833′ via Humber Park; Mt. San Gorgonio @ 11,500′ via Vivian Creek).  This includes approximately 42 miles of running/hiking with 13,884′ of elevation gain. With an hour and half drive in between each mountain, motivation can drain quickly if you’re not careful.

Mt. Baldy stage of the 8,000 meter challenge.  Blue sky and mountain running. A winning combination.

Mt. Baldy stage of the 8,000 meter challenge. Blue sky and mountain running. A winning combination. Photo courtesy of Dax Ross.

After an early start, we bagged the 9 mile round trip route on Mt. Baldy while making good time. It was a clear morning so the views of SoCal from the summit were solid.  Two days prior to this trip we learned that Ben and Gil were missing on Palcaraju Oeste in Peru. At this point we were clinging to any remaining hope that they had survived and would be found.  In honor of Ben, we buried a pair of boxer briefs at the summit of Baldy.

Boxer briefs for Ben.

Boxer briefs for Ben.

Mt. Baldy summit of the 8,000 meter challenge. Dax, me, Jess and Paul.

Mt. Baldy summit of the 8,000 meter challenge. Dax, me, Jess and Paul.

The next peak was an 18 mile round trip up and down San Gorgonio.  After summitting, I felt nauseous on the descent but could still manage a comfortable running pace.  Our packs ran dry with approximately 6 miles left on the descent so we had to break to sterilize stream water.

After bagging Gorgonio, I still felt like crap but little did I know that the worst was yet to come.  On the drive to San Jacinto, we learned the news that we were dreading.  The bodies of Ben and Gil had been found after a fatal fall off the mountain.  I was already mentally and physically drained, but my spirit was shot after hearing this news. I took it incredibly hard.

Ascending San Gorgonio.

Beginning stages of the San Gorgonio ascent.

San Gorgonio ascent. Photo courtesy of Dax Ross.

San Gorgonio ascent. Photo courtesy of Dax Ross.

Arriving at San Jacinto, I decided that it just wasn’t my day.  Long days can bring a series of ups and downs and highs and lows.  However, sometimes goals just don’t work out the way you want them to. It doesn’t mean put them aside completely, it just means that the timing may be off.  This failed attempt will help me further appreciate the success of this challenge when it’s complete.  To that, I am grateful for this learning experience.  In the meantime, I’m stoked to share some kickass pictures from the day!

Final push to the summit of San Gorgonio. After completing this ascent, we learned that Ben and Gil had been found.  This was very tough news for me to take and I wasn't able to complete San J.  I will be back to conquer this challenge.

Final push to the summit of San Gorgonio. After completing this ascent, we learned that Ben and Gil had been found. This was very tough news for me to take and I wasn’t able to complete San J. I will be back to conquer this challenge.