Thanks to everyone for a great 2018!
Mark Fulton 8,000 Meter Challenge 2018 Recap
110 registered participants
25 support crew members
16 different retail stores
21 volunteers including 3 professional guides
45 finishers with 11 making the down tram
$25,000+ raised for Big City Mountaineers
Around 4:00 pm in the sleepy mountain town of Mt Baldy, decorated vans and cars start to roll in for a night of carbo-loading and tradition. The Mark Fulton 8,000 Meter Challenge started in 1995 and takes brave participants up three of Southern California’s most iconic peaks in less than twenty-four hours. Participants are all outdoor retail employees from the southwest region and some of them have done this event over ten times, while others are ready to tackle it for their first time.
At 5:00 am every participant stands at the bottom of the Mt Baldy trailhead. The shortest of the 3 peaks at 9 miles round trip, Mt Baldy has a grueling elevation gain of 4,000ft. It’s relentlessly steep and rocky trail is an intense start to a long day of hiking.
By 9:30 most of the pack is on their way up peak number two. San Gorgonio is the monster of the event. At 18 miles in length with 6,000 ft of elevation gain, even the fittest-of-the-fit test their limits. With strictly enforced cutoff times the athletes are forced to keep a steady pace up the switchbacks and long stretches of trail that reach above the tree line. The air is thin and shade is long gone.
After San Gorgonio, participants head to Palm Springs to catch the Aerial Tram to the trailhead. The San Jacinto trail is 11 miles with 2,500 ft of elevation gain, taking athletes above 10,000 ft for the third time in one day. San Jacinto may be the easiest of the three trails, but after 27 miles it’s certainly no walk in the park. Almost twenty-four hours later, the last of the hikers makes his way down to the “Soup Kitchen” at 3:00 am.
The Soup Kitchen is a welcoming site for all. An aid station manned by volunteers from A-16 and Adventure Medical Kits. The happy group cheers as hikers come in and touch Mark Fulton’s ice ax to symbolize their completion of the Challenge. The crew heads over with a warm cup of soup and cookies that participants scarf down moments before falling asleep under the stars in sheer exhaustion.
By 7:00 am the bright morning sun and chirping birds have woken the sleepy hikers. Breakfast is served by Dirty Gourmet and everyone gathers for a group picture and the annual awards ceremony. An outsider would never guess how sore and achy the group is from the smiles, laughter, high-fives, and hugs that go around. Each participant hit their limit and found the inner strength to push on. There aren’t many things more satisfying than finding out you are better than you thought you were…that’s the true beauty of Mark Fulton’s wild idea to hike three demanding peaks in one day.
Thank you to everyone who supports this event. Sponsors, volunteers, guides, support crews, and participants make this event possible and we appreciate each and every one of them. A final thanks to Mark for inspiring every person that steps foot on these trails.