To bring awareness to the growing problem of childhood obesity and to accomplish something that’s never been done before, four men set out last month on an adventure they call the Cascade Challenge.

To bring awareness to the growing problem of childhood obesity and to accomplish something that’s never been done before, four men set out last month on an adventure they call the Cascade Challenge.

Their goal: to bike, hike, climb and ski 1,000 miles – the bulk of the Cascade Mountain range – from Abbotsford, British Columbia all the way to Mt. Lassen.

Last week, Greg Stafford, Rex Shepard, Will Fain and Cole Iverson rode their bikes into Mount Shasta City. On Friday, they climbed Mt. Shasta and skied down the other side.

This week, they’ll tackle Mt. Lassen to finish their journey, which was completed entirely on their own power.

“It’s been physically very grueling,” admitted 27 year old Greg Stafford, a land surveyor and photographer from Anchorage, Alaska who came up with the idea for the Challenge.

“It’s a totally unique experience, a great life accomplishment,” added Fain, a 26 year old biology major from Ashland, Ore.

They’re joined by 26 year old Shepard, a wildland firefighter who also works at Skjersaas ski shop in Bend and Cole Iverson, 27, a video major from Ashland who is filming and photographing the journey.

The expedition began on June 13, and since then the four friends have summited  Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, South Sister, Broken Top, Mt. Theilsen, the Crater Lake Rim, Mt. McLoughlin and now Mt. Shasta.

They met while attending Southern Oregon University and were brought together by their love for the outdoors and skiing the backcountry, Stafford said.

The abundant snowfall that still graces the mountains this year has been both a blessing and a curse during their journey they said on Thursday when they stopped at the Mount Shasta Herald office for an interview.

Because snow blocked some of their intended routes there were some coordination issues, but it also gave them the ability to ski more than they would have been able to otherwise.

Though the journey has been exciting and action-packed, the most difficult thing was keeping in the right frame of mind to continue at such a fast pace, they said.

Stafford explained sitting on top of 14,411 foot Mt. Rainier, the group could look south and see several other mountains lined up before them.

“You’re looking at them, and you know that in a few days, you’ll be at the top. It’s pretty crazy,” Stafford said.

The team has garnered some sponsorship from the outdoor clothing company Eddie Bauer, as well as Seal Line, Thermarest, Oakley, Raleigh, MSR, Hydro Flask, Skjersaa’s and River City Bicycles.

When they’re done with the physical part of their journey, they’ll be editing the film and showing it as schools to help promote outdoor activities.

For more about the Cascade Challenge, visit their Eddie Bauer Born Out There First Ascent blog at www.firstascent.com