This weekend I skied in a “vertical challenge” fundraiser, where you just see how many laps you can do in a set time period (in this case 4.5 hours), in teams. No breaks. It’s no 24 Hours of Aspen but it was a blast.

The mountain was Waterville Valley in New Hampshire, which isn’t huge by any means. But it’s got 1,600' vertical on its main chair over about a mile of distance, so it’s a lot of fun to rip down at full speed. We mostly got to skip the lift lines which was key. Each run we spent around 2 minutes in the line, 8 on the chair going up, and less than 2 going down. Basically between 11-12 minutes per run for a total of 24 runs and around 35,000 vertical feet. No one did more laps than our team as we were FAST - the team leader recruited us for that reason.

I almost never use fitness / recreation tracking apps, but this seemed like a good opportunity.

[side note on GPS accuracy: a basic GPS antenna setup like in a cellphone has major limitations. It’s fine for tracking speed over time, or giving you a rough idea of where you are, or even helping you navigate an area with few natural navigation aides (e.g. water). But several times the Ski Tracks app got very confused. We took the same lift every run and one of two trails down, right next to each other. Yet, there were several recorded “runs” of a couple hundred vertical feet (rather than the ~1,600 of the actual run) and I can only chalk that up to GPS inaccuracy. I most certainly did NOT get off the chair at the top, then hike 354 feet vertically, then ski back down at 9mph. Over time and distance these errors are less important, but they made for some weird data at times.]

Most of the time our speeds were over 40mph, reaching around 50mph each run. A few times when the trails were especially empty in just the right places, I’d drop into a tuck and send it straight down, getting over 60 several times and peaking at 71 mph (probably - see above about GPS). We were all dressed in full jackets and pants (no speed suits) and I was the only one on race skis, although just 181cm GS skis, no SuperG or anything like that.


It was nuts. And so much fun. I’ve skied fast plenty of times, but never, EVER, have I skied so flat-out so many runs in a row. Most days you’d get a talking-to from Ski Patrol for skiing like that - or worse - especially in a group. But the conditions were perfect, it wasn’t too cold or too warm, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.

See vertical profile above - it should be the same start/end elevation each time but it’s not.


Also, the average speed includes the lift going up.... hence the low speed.

You can see that we ran faster top speeds later in the day. I got more comfortable with my lines and knew just where I could let it run if there were no people.


But for comparison, you can see how the GPS just didn’t keep up or whatever, because look at these two profiles of back-to-back runs:

The first one makes sense, the second one looks like the mountain is gradual then has a big cliff at the bottom.


Whatever. Man, that was fun.

That night, my kids wanted to go night skiing. So I was exhausted, but went anyway, just a few runs. It was fun.


But then, the very next day, of course “daddy let’s go skiing!” so off we went to a small local hill (our usual mountain was totally closed due to wind). The kids probably did 40 laps on the rope tow, I did about 25. It was snowing the whole time and after a bit, we were the only people on the hill (us and another family who we’re friends with). It was just as much fun in a totally different way.

A few times we hiked up to ski the upper trails (their main chair was closed, hence the rope tow laps). A continual renewal of fresh snow was nice, but it wasn’t worth hiking more than a few times.


I can’t think of a weekend where I skied more, possibly ever. And I absolutely loved it.