Setting Goals, 30 by 30

I’m not sure that I am considered a true adventurer. I haven’t hiked 2000 miles on the PCT or trekked the Himalayas. I don’t run marathons on the weekends. I don’t think I’ve ever felt completely guilt-free about downing a carrot cake flavored Clif bar like I’ve actually exerted enough energy to deserve all those calories. On nights before a hike I pack everything and put it by the door so I can roll out of bed and straight into the car. I actually look forward to the hour plus drive to the mountains as it’s extra time to wake up. Does this sound like the makings of a adventurer? What exactly does it mean to be an adventurer? Is there a list out there of places a person must visit? Is there a required number of miles hiked or peaks climbed? Or is just feeling like an adventurer good enough?
Diablo Lake from Sourdough Mountain in the North Cascades.
In 2012 I decided I wanted to do something special for my 30th birthday. I was lounging around on a beautiful summer day feeling guilty about not being outside (this is a common phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest) and thinking about what makes me happy. One answer was hiking, specifically climbing peaks. I had an idea. What if I climb 30 peaks by my 30th birthday? I immediately started planning. I looked at the calendar, I had a year and one month to complete my goal. I was already busy planning my wedding and honeymoon so I thought maybe I was taking on too big a task. I looked back through my hiking log (I keep a record of every hike I do in a spreadsheet, this very much satisfies my inner nerd) and I counted up the peaks I had climbed already. I had twelve, almost halfway to 30. I decided to build off the list of peaks I already climbed. That left 18 peaks to climb in a little over a year. I could do this.
Sunset on the trail to Benchmark Mountain.
Not only did I accomplish my goal, but I pushed myself to do things I had dreamed of doing but was too hesitant to initiate on my own. When a friend offered a permit to climb Mt Whitney with her. I said, um, which Mt Whitney, like the Mt Whitney? There was no way I could refuse. Then my husband suggested that we should climb Glacier Peak on my 30th birthday as the grand finale. I had never roped up for a climb before. I was pumped. This would be the perfect finale for my 30.
Big Four Mountain from the Mt Dickerman trail.

30 Peaks by 30:

1. Mt Pilchuck (5340′) North Cascades, WA, 8/29/07
// See Lookouts: Mt Pilchuck

2. Mt Si (3980′) Central Cascades, WA, 7/13/08

3. The Wedge & the Ramp (5240′) Chugach Mountains, AK, 8/3/08
// See Backpacking Chugach Part 1 & 2

4. Mt Forgotten (6005′) North Cascades, WA, 8/10/08

5. Granite Mountain (5629′) Central Cascades, WA, 9/26/09
// See Lookouts: Granite Mountain

6. Bald Mountain (4209′) North Cascades, WA, 10/3/09

7. Dog Mountain (2948′) Columbia River Gorge, WA, 5/30/10
// See Dog Mountain

8. Dirty Harry Peak (4650′) Central Cascades, WA, 6/13/10

9. Bandera Mountain (5200′) Central Cascades, WA, 7/10/10

10. Mt St Helens (8365′) South Cascades, WA, 8/28/11
// See Mount St Helens Climb

Mt Stuart from Iron Peak in the Teanaway.

11. Benchmark Mountain (5816′) North Cascades, WA, 9/3/11

12. Mt Defiance (5584′) Central Cascades, WA, 10/15/11

13. Mt Townsend (6280′) Olympic Mountains, WA, 7/14/12

14. Beckler Peak (5063′) North Cascades, WA, 7/21/12

15. Iron Peak (6510′) Teanaway, WA, 7/27/12

16. Rock Mountain (6852′) North Cascades, WA, 8/3/12

*Married my favorite hiking partner (0′) Seattle, WA 8/19/12

17. Stawamus Chief (2303′) Coast Mountains, BC, 8/23/12

18. Panorama Ridge Point (6700′) Coast Mountains, BC, 8/25/12

19. Mt Whitney (14,505′) Sierra Nevada, CA, 9/26/12
// See Mt Whitney Climb

20. Hamilton Mountain (2438′) Columbia River Gorge, WA, 1/19/13

On the way to Hamilton Mountain in the Columbia Gorge during a temperature inversion in January.

21. Mailbox Peak (4841′) Central Cascades, WA, 6/1/13

22. Mt Muller (3748′) Olympic Mountains, WA, 6/9/13

23. Navaho Peak (7162′) Teanaway, WA, 6/15/13

24. Thorp Mountain (5856′) Central Cascades, WA, 6/29/13

25. Silver Star Mountain (4380′) South Cascades, WA, 7/4/13
// See Silver Star Mountain

26. Mt Dickerman (5723′) North Cascades, WA, 7/27/13

27. Sourdough Mountain (5985′) North Cascades, WA, 7/28/13
// See Lookouts: Sourdough Mountain

28. Mt Ellinor (5944′) Olympic Mountains, WA, 8/3/13

29. Sauk Mountain (5537′) North Cascades, WA, 8/4/13
// See Book Club Recap: July 2016

30. Glacier Peak (10,525′) North Cascades, WA, 8/11/13
// See A Glacier Peak Birthday

On the way to Glacier Peak!

I personally think of an adventurer as someone who sets a goal to do something they are passionate about and then pursues that goal. The goal could simply be to go for a walk around the neighborhood once a week or making a life list of wildflowers to find along the trail. It could be to bag the tallest peak in your state or to climb all the fourteeners in Colorado. It could be a mission that you will complete in one summer or in thirty years. If the quest feels like an adventure to you and you’ve gotten out of your comfort zone on your way to accomplishing it, then you are an adventurer in my book. As 2014 comes to a close, I encourage everyone to find their inner adventurer and make a goal in 2015 to get out and try something new.

Bonus Camp Reads!


The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

If you read this book there is a really good chance that you will soon embark on an epic quest. This is a culmination of Chris’ inspiring vignettes of visiting every country on the planet, incredible stories of amazing people on their own missions  and a how-to guide to planning and pursuing your own ultimate quest. This book inspired to make a ‘Life List’ and set new goals every year to continue to pursue a sense of accomplishment.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  None

This hardback inspirational guide to your next quest is best left at home for planning purposes. Your next mega adventure will likely require light packing.


Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik

I really love this book. I read it a month before I completed my 30 by 30 and it felt like I made a friend on a similar (and much more difficult) journey. Mark is no stranger to embarking on quests, he is the author of The Big Year about his competition with other birders to spy the most bird species in a year.  He was forty-four, overweight and father of three when his son convinced him to climb a 14,000-foot peak for the first time. He struggled on the way to the top, but something about that climb launched Mark into his year long mission to summit all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. Mark’s lighthearted and honest account of his quest is a fun and inspiring read. In the book he passed on a piece of advice that would become invaluable on my own journey: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Car Camp, Day Hike or Backpack?  Backpack

The small compact paperback version of the book is perfect for perusing while pursuing the peaks in your life.

Read more about my quest on Chris Guillebeau’s website:
30 Peaks Before Age 30: Ashley Gossens’ Quest



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