4 Mountains 2009

View of Lake Minnewanka from the top of Cascade
On August 2nd 2009 I embarked on the challenge of summiting Tunnel, Rundle, Cascade, and Sulphur Mountains within a 24 hr time period. I was very lucky to have the support of my parents, Beth and Danny, my Uncle Stu, and Grandma Danskin during the event. They shuttled me between mountains and even prepared peanut butter and jam sandwiches for me to munch along the way! Uncle Stu also joined the trek up Sulphur and it was great to have some company for the last mountain.
A dark trek up Tunnel complete!

I managed to capture video of the event that can be viewed through the link provided along the right hand column of the homepage.

Over the summer I spent a lot of time in the mountains preparing for the challenge. It was important to condition my body to handle the distance of a little over 50km and a combined elevation change of over 3500m. I also needed to learn how to fuel my body properly to withstand the day’s toll.

I discovered that I needed at least 1 liter of fluids for every hour of expenditure.  I managed to stay on track during the adventure and consumed 15 liters over the 15 hours.  I used the combination of water and a mixture of 1:1 Gatorade to water for fluid intake. I found the benefits of the electrolytes in the Gatorade were particularly important due to the amount I was sweating in the 25+ degree temperatures. I watered down the Gatorade because I found that the full strength mixture was too sweet and didn’t digest as well. I mixed individual bottles the previous day and reloaded my backpack with an appropriate amount before heading up each mountain.
Restocking the bag

When it came to food, as mentioned I ate PB & J’s between each mountain and had various energy bars with me for each mountain. It was trial and error before finding my preferred bars based on taste and effectiveness. I also tried energy gels during my training and found them to be quite useful. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the gels so it’s important to work out those potential bugs before embarking on the full event.

Over the challenge, the physical battles were a sore hip and knees. I wore a pair of low top light hiking shoes – Merrell Moabs. I purchased them in New Zealand during my travels down under and clocked over 300km of back country hiking in them before wearing them all summer in Canada for my 4 mountains training. Needless to say I would certainly promote their comfort and durability! They were a great option for the adventure as they have a thicker sole for pounding on rugged rocky terrain while the Vibram sole, tread pattern and wide base provide excellent grip and stability. The shoe is also very lightweight and the low cut helps promote agility for its wearer.
A view of Cascade from part way up Sulphur with Banff in the foreground

Mentally it was also quite draining as I spent a lot of time hiking alone during preparation and for the event. It highlighted the benefit and importance of having people around for help support and motivation. This is an obvious parallel to those battling mental illness who also need family and friends to be there for support.  It was wonderful to see everyone get behind the event and the cause. When I announced the event my goal was $1,500 so you can imagine my excitement about the final total of over $10,000!  In a coming blog I will explain how the money has been used to help benefit the CMHA and bring added awareness to mental health in society.
Top of Sulphur with Uncle Stu. It was a great feeling to be there with him!

I hope you enjoy the video and have a look at the West Coast Trail 2010 tab for info on that Challenge!