Four peaks, three friends, one day

Trio tackles four mountains in a span of 14 hours

Posted: Friday, August 05, 2005

Maybe it's just one of those things people born and raised in Juneau do in their free time.

Some people enjoy a relaxing day on a boat, others park themselves in front of the television while other people spend their free time in a shopping mall or movie theater.

For Juneau natives Philip Dierking, 20, Gabe Hayden, 19, and Bryce Iverson, 18, they decided to spend a day climbing four mountains in less than 24 hours.

"This is a pretty athletically-oriented town and a part of living in Juneau is taking challenges with glaciers and the mountains," Dierking said.

"If you have an outdoorsy community, you might as well take some crazy challenges to tell people at school or when you're older to tell people, 'Look at what I did.' You might as well not waste the opportunities living here."

While it may sound a little crazy to try scaling four treacherous peaks in one day, it was originally supposed to be just three.

Hayden served as the ringleader, planning out the initial time table to climb Mt. Juneau, then Mt. Gastineau and finally Mt. Jumbo.

The threesome met up at the base of Mt. Juneau at 7:20 a.m. on July 30. To Dierking's surprise, it only took two hours.

"Because it was the morning, we were pretty fresh and it didn't take nearly as long as we expected," Dierking said. "It was 9:30 a.m. by the time we got back down. It went well, so it was like, 'Let's try a fourth.'"

The fourth peak was Thunder Mountain.

After climbing Mt. Juneau, however, the crew hustled down to the local A&P supermarket, ate as many chicken fingers and cookies in a 20-minute span as they could to re-energize their bodies.

After conquering Mt. Gastineau second, Dierking said the crew started to hit a wall along their third mountain, Mt. Jumbo.

"Climbing up that is a rough trail, it's super steep and there's more climbing than hiking," Dierking said. "We were barely moving. We were moving our slowest and took a lot of breaks."

With only Thunder Mountain left in their journey, Dierking and company felt the strain.

Even though all three were in fantastic physical condition - the trio all ran high school cross country and Hayden runs for Gonzaga University - the exercise started to exact its inevitable toll.

"The fourth was the hardest mentally," Dierking said. "But Gabe was our cheerleader and we were like we have to do it. ... We started off slow, but it was possible."

At this point, the trio not only fought the terrain and fatigue, but also time.

Hiking a mountain trail when the sun goes down is not terribly safe.

With time running out, however, their adrenaline kicked in.

"If we do it we have to do it hard because it's easy to get lost on," Dierking said of their ascent. "When we do this, we had to hurry. We were probably a little more excited when we started to get to the top. ... We made it on time thanks to Gabe's cheerleading. After we got our pictures, we as carefully and quickly as we could got down. That was a hill that could be dangerous."

They completed their journey at 9:30 p.m., a little more than 14 hours after they started.

The crew covered about 23 thrilling miles and climbed approximately 13,000 total feet in elevation.

The morning after, however, wasn't as exciting.

"I could hardly walk," Dierking said of the day after their trek. "I had to work the next day and it was rough. I think I lost about two years of usage from my knees."

Iverson will start taking classes at Clemson University in the fall while Hayden will head back to Gonzaga and Dierking will resume his education at Western Washington University.

Before going back to school, however, Dierking plans to race in Saturday's Douglas Island Half-Marathon.

"We joked about maybe doing five mountains in a day but we need to train seriously for that one," Dierking said. "Maybe in the future we'll do five."

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at

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