People ask all the time, “SkiZer, what’s the deal with counting your vertical?”
The SkiZer struggles to explain this rather esoteric practice, but here goes.
It started way back in 1984 when I was traveling in Europe with my wife-to-be, Mrs. SkiZer. It was July and we were in Austria. We stopped in the resort town of Zell am See and shredded in the soft summer snow.
“A little wet, but really fun!” the 25-year-old SkiZer wrote in his travel journal. This was the first time SkiZer had ever written about skiing.
Over the years, SkiZer continued writing about his ski days. The entries gradually became more and more detailed.
“It’s an epic day!” SkiZer wrote about Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, in December 2001. “Fabulous powder skiing. I score 34,000 vertical.”
Before that season, my journal entries didn’t have any numbers associated with them. Counting vertical seemed to be a good way to measure what kind of day I was having. And over time, the SkiZer ended up keeping a running tally of vertical feet skied during a season.
You may ask, “What does ‘vertical’ even mean?” Every chairlift rises a certain number of vertical feet. Let’s say it’s 1,700 feet. If you ski that lift twice, you’ve skied 3,400 vertical feet. Three times? 5,100 vertical feet — and so on.
The SkiZer isn’t the only one doing this. Many Northwest skiers record their vertical, including the people in this Outdoors NW story SkiZer penned in 2013.
And Whitefish Mountain, Mont., actually helps pass-holders keep track of how much vertical they’re racking up by scanning their passes each run. This has led to a fevered competition to become the resort’s vertical champion each year.
So there you have it. Their quest for vertical — and mine — continues.