230 miles, 71,000′ elevation gain, four mountains, one week.
A few years ago I ran RAGBRAI, a seven day bike ride traversing my home state of Iowa. It was 416 miles, and I ran anywhere from 50 to 80 miles a day to complete the run in the hot Iowa summer to raise over $20,000 for new medical equipment for the Iowa Veterans Home. With the media attention of being the first guy to run the longest, largest, and oldest bike tour in the world, it was my 15 minutes of fame and I was happy to complete the hardest thing I had ever set my mind to.
Six months after RAGBRAI, I am in a whole new life outside of the Army, a dirtbag living out of my VW Vanagon. I was running up Pikes Peak in Colorado thinking to myself, have I peaked at age 28? Was that truly the hardest thing I will have ever done in my life? Scared by this prospect, I immediately sprang the idea of the RASH.
The RASH: Up, Down, and Around. Summit and circumnavigate four of the iconic Cascade Volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest. Mount Rainier, Adams, Saint Helens, and Hood. These mountains had been the first I had cut my teeth on when I moved to Washington and fully delved into climbing. The circumnavigation of these peaks were my first backcountry runs when I started ultrarunning. What if I could link up each of these four peaks with a summit and a circumnavigation, in less than a week total? That would easily be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried, harder than RAGBRAI.
Similar to RAGBRAI, a week of effort on this project would mean a week straight of nothing but climbing, running, eating, or sleeping. The routes will total somewhere around 230 miles of travel and a frightening 71,000′ of elevation gain. Here’s the breakdown of the plan for each individual mountain:
It’s taken me three summers to find the time to give this project a go. I plan on starting the week of July 18th, weather dependent. I am hoping for a clear patch of seven days, but I understand with the PNW weather, that is not dependable. Best case scenario, I think I could accomplish this in six days. Rainier could take as little as three days for the climb and circumnav, then one day each for the following mountains (run during the day, climb in the evening). I have done each of these climb/circumnavs individually as training for the big push already. Seven days is the goal, but could take up to ten days or longer if weather does not work out.
I aim to go fully self/unsupported and solo during the the expedition. Adams and Helens I will do the full climb/circumnav unsupported. Hood I will do the run unsupported, resupply at the car and change out footwear, and climb unsupported. Mount Rainier, as a fully technical glacial climb, is more tricky to plan. The run will be unsupported, and I will most likely do the Rainier climb solo, depending on weather, route conditions, and permits. As of right now, due to the fluid nature of the scheduling, I do not have a crew to drive me from mountain to mountain, so I am planning on doing driving myself and hence self supported. Once at a mountain, the car won’t move, as in the case of Rainier, starting both the climb and run from Reflection Lakes. I will be tracking my progress with my SPOT beacon, link below.
Thanks to Altra, Nuun, Suunto, and Arc’teryx for helping make this possible!
SPOT Tracking: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0z99YUtSxFVECKOAfYD12dSVES10AScGj