The Quest for Vertical

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.

When I had hair: The SkiZer shreds at Zell am See, Austria, in 1984.

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.


3 thoughts on “The Quest for Vertical

  1. I always wondered about the obsession with the VF but that makes perfect sense, especially after viewing the Wang Wong (remember him?) picture from 1984 and it even looks like you are skiing on a pair of K2s. Can you do a review of your favorite equipment through the years?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Also, the ski journal clips are from assorted shots have a number of names mentioned one of which seems to stand out as a true believer in the seasonal vertical goals and the other must have turned in the direction of nordic (Kms skied vs. vertical) btw…what do you think is more admirable? km skied nordic or vertical alpine?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to think vertical alpine is what I care about the most (mainly because it’s more fun) but more ‘admirable?’ I’d have to say a big day skate-skiing is harder physically. I found that out this weekend — post to come!


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