WHITEFISH, Mont. – Nearly 8,000 season pass holders at Whitefish Mountain Resort surpassed 1 billion vertical feet of skiing and snowboarding on Tuesday, Feb. 24, as tracked by the resort's "Big Vertical" program.
Resort officials said they were excited to have their own unfathomly large number to talk about.
"These kinds of really big numbers seem to be getting a lot of news coverage lately," said resort spokesperson Donnie Clapp. "You know, billions, trillions, that sort of thing. From what I've heard, even congress is on the absurdly-large number bandwagon."
Whitefish Mountain Resort has been tracking the number of vertical feet its season pass holders ski for several years. Pass holders can keep tabs on their totals, as well as those of their friends, on the resort's website at no additional charge.
One run on Chair 1, a high-speed quad lift that ferries skiers from the mountain village all the way to the summit, is worth 2,084 of the ski area's available 2,353 vertical feet. Other of the resort's 10 regularly operating lifts offer less vertical per ride.
In 77 days of skiing between Dec. 10 and Feb. 24, Whitefish pass holders had skied a total of 1,008,115,366 vertical feet.
"I mean, that's simply a gargantuan number," said Clapp. "Just look at all those commas."
Whitefish season pass holders had to ski and snowboard more than 13,092,407 vertical feet per day to achieve the historic 1 billion vertical feet mark by Feb. 24.
"It's a tough job we ask our local pass holders to take on," said Clapp. "Every morning, the people who live in Whitefish wake up and know that they have to go hit the slopes to do their part. I'm sure that seems pretty horrible to all the city dwellers out there who only have to ski a few days a year, but Whitefish is very close-knit. It's a team effort, and we all help each other through."
"Getting to the billion mark can be a little lonely," said one skier. "I mean, it's such an uncrowded place. Sometimes, I'm out there racking up vertical all day long and I only see a few other skiers."
The most prolific skier in Whitefish had skied over 2,618,428 vertical feet (an average of 34,005 vertical feet, or more than 16 runs on Chair 1 per day) as of Tuesday, Feb. 24, but could not be persuaded to stop skiing long enough to comment.
Day ticket skiers and snowboarders cannot track their vertical, but resort officials said anyone is welcome to come to Whitefish and cheer on the pass holders. Ski and stay packages as low as $70 per person per day for slopeside accommodations and unlimited skiing are available at skiwhitefish.com, or by calling 877-SKI-FISH.
"It would be great if our out-of-town guests would take a moment to thank the pass holders for their efforts when they meet them on the lifts or in the bar," said Clapp.
Whitefish Mountain Resort had seen more than 20 inches of fresh snow in the five days leading up to Feb. 27. Details can be found at http://skiwhitefish.com.