For nine years, the most vertical feet gained in 24 hours seemed an impossible record to break. Many skiers tried over the years to eclipse the seemingly inhuman 60,000-foot record, but all fell short, reports Gear Junkie.
But on March 18, North Face athlete Mike Foote broke that record, skiing an unbelievable 61,200 vertical feet. He completed the outrageous feat of endurance at Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort. 60,000 feet is equal to heading up and down Mount Everest twice from sea level.
For his attempt at the record Foote began at 9:20 a.m. on March 17 to climb up and ski down White Fish’s 1,020-foot course 60 times. With 20 minutes to spare, Foote accomplished his goal and broke the world record.
“Honestly it feels like the biggest physical accomplishment of my life,” Foote said about the record. “And to do it in a place where I have so many friends, community, and history means so much.”
Foote is better known in the ultramarathon world for top finishes at the world’s biggest races. He has podiumed the Hardrock 100 three times and the UTMB once. He also boasts top-three finishes at the Squamish 50 miler, Yakima Skyline 50K, Lavaredo Ultra Trail, Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji, and The Bear.
In 2016, he even ran 600 miles from Missoula, MT, to Banff, Canada, in what was named the Crown of the Continent Traverse.
To train for the record, Foote set aside months in advance to focus on skiing. He trained on Ed’s Run at Whitefish, the same run where he eventually broke the record.
“I’ve been obsessing over it for the last six to seven months, and made a lot of sacrifices for it,” he said. “It feels good to dream big and accomplish it.”
Foote honed his snow skills working as a ski-patroller at Whitefish Mountain Resort in his 20s. He would hike up the mountains before work, and it was where he started to love the uphill.
Foote worked with a support team that paced with him up the mountain and helped during transitions. They supplied food, gels, and hydration. He used several pairs of skins to dry out between runs, and grooming machines ran during the attempt to keep the ski hill in good riding condition.
In 2007, Austrian skimo racer Eckhardt Dolshlag set the record at 57,000 feet, later breaking his own record in 2009 by reaching 60,000 feet. And now the record is Mike Foote’s incredible 61,200 feet.