For my 60th birthday, I had promised myself a very special present, one that was both simple and affordable; ski 60,000 vertical feet in the course of one day. In the past, I’ve tried hard to outdo myself in that department; five years ago, I piled up 46,787 feet near Banff and two years later, I logged 50,625 at Park City Mountain Resort.
This was pretty close to my 60,000 goal and this time, with the support of my good friend Dirk Beal who is Director of Sales at Deer Valley Resort, I picked his place of work for breaking my personal record; I couldn’t have done it at the other Park City resorts during the course of a normal day. At Deer Valley, “Sultan Express” a new high-speed quad chair whisks you up 1,760 vertical feet in a mere 6 minutes and 45 seconds; besides, the slope is consistently steep and ideal for this kind of record. I had to wait until February 28 for all conditions to be perfect and, that morning, I loaded the first chair at 8:48 am; some 7 hours and 11 minutes later, I was done and had exceeded my goal!
There are plenty of things that can happen when you try to pack so much skiing into one single day; first, you hope that there won’t be any significant lift line, little skier traffic, few unexpected lift stoppages and no strong wind to slow the chairs down. You also need to save your energy, eat and drink while riding the chair and curtail bathroom stops. Finally, you absolutely must ski non-stop and as fast as you can without hitting other skiers or trees; this surely would spoil the day. That morning, all these great conditions were met, except perhaps for the skiers who, lured by the great weather, came out in sizable numbers. I stayed on “Perseverance” the one run that is the closest to the lift line and also happens to be the least crowded because it’s the steepest; the first third of that run consisted of bumpy crud while its remaining and largest section was perfectly groomed and allowed for maximum speed. Just before 2 pm, I had passed my 60,000 goal and decided to push on. I actually skied until the last main lifts stopped and by the time I stepped out of my boards, just before 4 pm, I had logged 84,490* vertical feet! That ought to be enough to take care of my vertical skiing record until I reach my 84th birthday, if I ever do it. After that, we’ll reconsider!
* For our European friends, compared to the Grands-Montets near Chamonix, France, that represents riding more than 12 times the two trams…