Ultra-endurance athlete Mike Foote did continuous laps, skiing uphill and down at Whitefish Mountain Resort for an entire day. He set a new “vertical record” in the process.
For nine years, the most vertical feet gained in 24 hours stood as a skiing record that couldn’t be broken. Skiers tried over the years to eclipse the seemingly inhuman 60,000-foot record, but all fell short.
But on March 18, Mike Foote broke that record, skiing 61,200 vertical feet. He completed the outrageous feat of endurance at Montana’s Whitefish Mountain Resort.
To set the record, Foote set out 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 made history.
“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.”
Most Vertical Feet in 24 Hours: New Skiing World Record
Foote, an athlete for The North Face, is 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, Mont., to Banff, Canada, in what was named the Crown of the Continent Traverse. So, until now, Foote was mostly known for his running chops.
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. “My fellow patrollers all thought I was kinda crazy,” said Foote.
Mike Foote Makes Skiing History
To ski up and down 61,200 feet in 24 hours is unfathomable. For context, 60,000 feet is equal to heading up and down Mount Everest twice from sea level.
There comes a time when you can’t prepare or train anymore and you have to just go for it. Tomorrow is that time for me as I set out on a 24hr journey to climb and ski as much vertical distance as I possibly can here at Whitefish Mountain Resort. I’m attempting to break the current world record of 60,000ft (18,288m) by the time the day is done. To be honest, it’s the loftiest goal I’ve set for myself since my first 100 miler, and I’m not sure I can do it. I do know, however, that I’m willing to give it everything I’ve got. And that I’m so lucky to have a great team of friends to crack the whip on me here and to have the full support of @thenorthface with this project. If you want to follow along for the ride, my life teammate @kt_rogo will be posting updates on this feed. Thanks to everyone for believing in this dream! Wish me luck. 😬 #bennyup
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.
As someone who is no stranger to suffering and ultra-long endurance challenges, Foote considers this “the loftiest goal I’ve set for myself since my first 100-miler.”
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.
Congratulations to Foote. This is one record that will be tough to break!