Smokin the Sixers 2010 was a great success this year!  We had 22 participants and raised over $600 for “Luke’s Wall”! 

Our participants were as varied as the peaks we climbed, with folks coming from California, Washington DC, and of course North Carolina.

Everyone met at Jus’ Running in Asheville, NC before the race for final instructions, map issue, and a raffle with great prizes from some great companies.  Big thanks to Gu Energy, Cilogear, Brooks, and REI for supporting our race, providing great prizes, and making excellent products!

The proverbial gun fired at 10:15 Saturday morning, and the race was on!  The official course time was between 11:00am Saturday to 11:00am Sunday, which gave participants 45 minutes to get to the first groups of peaks.  Teams could chose any of the 40 6000′ peaks to climb, in any order they chose. 

Some teams climbed abit Saturday, then relaxed at the campground before heading up a few peaks Sunday morning.  Other teams hiked and drove (mostly) through the night.  We had a tie for first place this year, with two teams covering 16 peaks!  Great job!

Big thanks to our great sponsors, without whose support our event wouldn’t have been nearly as cool!  Special thanks to all the participants and the folks who helped out with our event!   We hope everyone had a blast, and can’t wait for next year!


Hey Y’all

Still time to sign up for this weekends race!  Weather is looking great, and the fall colors will be in full bloom!  Don’t miss this opportunity to see a beautiful part of the country and to enjoy this challenging adventure.  Remember, we will be raffling off great prizes from Brooks, Gu Energy, REI, Cilogear Packs, and Petzl!  Race/raffle starts at 9:30am at Jus’ Running in Asheville (this Saturday).  Please show your appreciation for them by giving them your business!  See you Saturday!

If you want to do the event but don’t have a partner and want one, email me (!  Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there!


Come join us at 10am, October 2nd at Jus’ Running in Asheville, North Carolina for a rockin good time!  There are 40 peaks over 6000′ in North Carolina and Tennessee, this race will pit teams against each other to climb the most before Sunday morning at 10am.  Participants will be given score cards in which to record when they visited each summit.  Teams will be responsible for planning their routes and making their way from peak to peak.

All 40 peaks

Jus’ Running is hosting this event, and we will have a raffle in their store at 9:30am before the race.  Great prizes will be offered from Brooks, La Sportiva, REI, CiloGear, the Climbing Place and more!

Luke on the Pacific Crest Trail

Luke Gullberg is the inspiration for this unique race.  Before tragically passing away this past winter on Oregon’s Mt Hood, he led a life full of adventure and friendship.  He loved the outdoors, and during his one visit to North Carolina he and I teamed up against two other climbers to see who could climb the most routes in one day at Stone Mountain.  Luke also loved introducing others to mountain climbing, and we are all forever grateful for the time we shared with him.

Registration for this event is through  All proceeds will go towards “Luke’s Wall”, a climbing wall being built in his honor at a family camp.  Surf below for more info on “Luke’s Wall”, and feel free to scroll down to learn more about the legacy he left behind.  For more info, email


Jeff with us on a memorial hike up Mailbox Peak

I first met Jeff Guddat while working at Russell Investments, and I think we instantly clicked.  His gregarious personality, job proficiency, and climbing background broke the proverbial ice, but it was his fun-loving nature that endeared him to me.  So it was no surprise when he climbed Mt Baker with us, that he and Luke hit it off also.  He went on to climb Mt Hood with Luke the following year, and wrote flatteringly of Luke’s patience and proficiency in the mountains.  This past winter, Jeff was a great support and eager to help out in the aftermath of Luke’s death.

This summer Jeff climbed Mt St Helens with his two boys, and sent me this neat picture.   They are all sporting shirts made in Luke’s honor and sold at the recent fundraiser/climbathon at REI.  Thanks Jeff!

Luke on Rainier in 2007, our last time up the mountain together


And this past weekend, that something was Luke.  Mt Rainier was the scene  of our first big climb together, in 2004, along with Ben Rauk and Aaron Blankers.  After that, we enjoyed taking friends up to Camp Muir, or even to the summit.  I think the mountain always held special memories for us, like taking our mom up to Muir, or the first time our dad summited in 2007.

Luke, Me and Mom almost to Muir in 2004

After Luke’s death last year, I’ve struggled, though perhaps less than some people think neccessary, to decide whether or not to keep climbing and enjoying the mountains up close.  The beauty and challenge that these peaks offer is unmatched throughout nature.  If I plan my trip right, the mountains demand more than I can give, and I am left exausted and humbled, though beaming and already planning the next climb.  I love sorting gear the night before, deciding what stays and what goes, what is neccessary and what will just make me more comfortable.  I love strugging up an unsure pitch, even if my partner follows it easily.  I love the euphoria that accompanies reaching the car after a long day, and making tracks for the nearest pizza shack.  And I love introducing others to the outdoors.  Such was the case last weekend with my good friend Lenny Mingle.

The last time I had been to Mt Rainier’s summit, Luke had been at my side, smiling broadly beneath iced over goggles.  His presence was denfinitly felt and missed on this trip.  Lenny had been wanting to climb Rainier for a hot minute, and figured I’d be game for the adventure.  Since we both live in North Carolina, our trip would neccessitate a multi-leg airplane ride as well as a chance to see our families, who both live in Washington.  Our dads accompanied us to Camp Muir, but both thought better than to suffer through the high winds and unseasonably cold tempatures between our tents and the summit.  Burgers in Ashford on the way home tasted great!  Good times!

Chances are if you knew Luke Gullberg, you also knew Karen, Rod, Becky, Scott and even the dog Blitzer.  Because Luke Gullberg’s friends always came home with him and if you were one of Luke’s friends, you were like one of the family.  The home I grew up in was very similar.  With five of us kids, we ALWAYS had people over and mom and dad would treat them like family…even have them doing chores around the house.  Very seldom would any kid leave our doorstep without a hug, a full stomach and even a few bucks in their pocket for helping out!  But the one thing that was missing was the presence and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I found that at the Gullberg’s.  Warmth, food [my first time drinking powdered milkJ], the Hobbit Hole, knives and swords and a whole lot of fellowship centered on our savior, Jesus Christ. 

Like you, I experience the Gullberg’s hospitality that was often organized, festiv-fied and hosted by none other than Luke.  He was the magnet that held all of it together.  He was the drawing point.  But I’ll never forget the humility that Luke taught me in the way he hosted others.  He would pull it all together and sit back and watch everyone enjoy their time together.  He was never the type of person who was on center stage with the spotlight; rather he was the guy who was operating the spotlight. 

So in honor of Luke T. Gullberg, the Riley’s set out to host as many people as we could in our home this past winter and spring.  Our goal, in theme with Luke’s website, was to have 26 guests over; we’re not sure the total count.  We even made the period pilgrimage to Trader Joe’s, a two hour drive to the nearest one from our Midwest Town of Dubuque, IA.   Coconut Curry and Lemon Grace Chicken roles and Pork Pot stickers were a regular appetizer for our guests.

Luke, we miss you, we love you and we thank our God for blessing us with so many precious moments with you while you were on the earth.   Here’s to hospitality the right way, the Luke way!

– Jeff Riley, friend of Lukes

This is the second installment in Daine’s chronicle of his training and subsequent completion of “The Big Climb”, a race up the tallest building in the PNW: the mighty Columbia Tower!  This was a great accomplishment for Daine, and something he did in memory of Luke. 

February 21: Today I ran up 13 flights of stairs and down 13 flights of stairs over on Bellevue Street in Seattle. There were 112 stairs per flight.

February 22: Today I ran to the same spot as I did yesterday and ran up and down 13 flights of stairs totaling 2600 stairs.

February 23: Today I was totally lame and did not run. I am feeling pretty bummed out and 69 floors seems like too much.

February 25: Today I made up for the last two days I completed 39 flights of stairs up and down at my favorite spot on Bellevue. I lost my lunch on flight number 20 and more on flight 29, I toughed it out and finished all 39.

February 26: Today I incorporated some crunches, pushups, curls, and started stretching more. I ran the 2600 stairs today after a good workout.

March 15: today I was lame and didn’t run or work out at all.

March 16: Made up for yesterday and ran 5,200 stairs.

March 17: legs were sore today and I feel like I didn’t run very well. I did run the 2600 stairs though.

-Daine Heinrich, Friend of Luke’s

“The Big Climb” went off without a hitch, and Daine finished the 69 stories in just over 12 minutes!  Looking forward to more from this stud!

Mike and some friends training in AK

I didn’t know Luke, but judging from the character of his brother, Scott, whom I’ve shared a few short but grueling weeks in training with, I can only draw positive conclusions about the man that he was and the life that he led.

I have a contribution in the spirit of ’26’. It takes roughly 2600 miles (depending on your route) to traverse the width of the United States of America from San Diego, CA, to Jacksonville, FL, assuming you take a few detours here and there to soak in the scenery. The challenge I am proposing is to ride a bicycle from Pacific to Atlantic in under 26 days. I have already completed this challenge, so it is possible, and very much worthwhile. My only advice is, as with most things in life, to bring a friend.

The only other comment that I have is that, while this is undoubtedly a tragedy, all of us should be so lucky as to be able to have our last moments be in the midst of wonder and nature, doing something we love.

Mike Zecca

San Diego, CA

“For the record – I did indeed find a spot on trail to lie down and laugh. Didn’t happen right away until I noticed a twig was sticking up my nose and I thought about how you would have laughed if you could have seen me… so naturally I started to laugh! Felt good, but not quite the same as when you and I laugh. Ahh… I love that. I miss that a lot right now.” 

– Luke T. Gullberg, PCT Journal, September 4, 2009 

In these days when tears are too often flowing and words seem few, I find great comfort in the simple fact that laughter can heal all kinds of wounds. 

 Sometimes Luke and I would be talking on the phone… him in Seattle and me in LA… and suddenly we would find ourselves in the midst of uncontrollable laughter. Tears would spring from the corners of my eyes, my throat would dry and my abs would begin to burn. 

 No matter how things were in our relationship or our lives, Luke and I could always find a reason to laugh together. This was a part of our relationship that both of us found so very special – so enlightening, healing and even life-giving. How I relished those moments with him, and now find myself wishing again that I could experience. Though it is not the same without him, and often these days it takes a great deal of work to find a genuine laugh within myself, for him, I will continue to seek after that joy – that unexplainable, spontaneous humor that is, quite simply, life.

For the past two months, laughing is something I have been far below my usual quota on. Soooo, with the help of my dear friend Caeley (and after 26 jumping jacks and 26 lunges), we laid down next to one another on the ground… outside, in the rain… and for 26 beautiful minutes… we laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more. At nothing, and at everything. Plain. Simple. Beautiful. I just know Luke would have been so game for such an experience… especially the part where it works out your abs.

 26 minutes of laughter… to Luke!!! Seriously, you should try it…..   

-Mandy Sauerlender, girlfriend

I just finished watching a movie that was truly inspiring. A man named Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. In other words: 26 miles of running for 50 days! He also did these races in separate states finishing at the New York marathon. He started running these races on his 30th birthday when he felt as if he was having a midlife crisis and he also felt overweight.  He was at a bar celebrating his birthday with his friends and then out of the blue said he was going for a run and left the bar to continue running for a long while.  He had not run for about 15 years.  Since then he has run 200 plus mile races.  When I watched this movie I realized that this idea I had was possible.

I am running a race called, “The Big Climb” which is a run or walk up the Columbia Tower in Seattle on March 21, 2010.  Its 69 floors or 1311 stairs.  This race is to raise money for Lymphoma and Leukemia research.  I recently came upon a website honoring my best friend Luke who recently passed away.  He was someone who could truly inspire someone to achieve great things. He was a beast in the gym, could climb mountains and would push himself to become a smarter, healthier, and more outgoing.  I learned many life lessons from him and our travels.  He told me about “The Big Climb” which he did last year as part of “Team Gullberg” in honor of his mother who battled cancer for many years.  I was going to do this climb with him this year but his last climb was up Mt. Hood. 

 He always had a phrase in his movies when he was climbing: “See you at the top”.  This phrase is going to keep me on track in my challenge.  Luke’s brother Scott and sister Becky are making a page to honor Luke.  You are supposed to do something 26 times and record it in pictures and writing.  My goal is to run up 1300 stairs and down 1300 stairs totaling 2600 stairs for the next 26 days, culminating with the “The Big Climb”.  I started running this amount of stairs on a street next to my house that has 113 steps consecutively so I ran this 13 times.  I continued this for a total of three days until I thought of too many reasons to quit.  I thought it couldn’t be done.  This is when I watched the marathon man run and run and run.  Today is 26 days until the race I just have to keep thinking it is possible and do it for Luke, and hold onto his phrase, “I’ll see you at the top.”       To be continued…..  

-Daine Heinrich, friend