36 days: 1 million vertical feet

Liz Pyles
Andy Klein, a fire engine operator with the Forest Service, said he accomplished his goal of skiing a million vertical feet at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park this season. He started Dec. 28, 2012 and reached his goal March 2, 2013. “It was work. I’m glad it’s over,” he said. “Now I’m skiing for fun.” Photo by Liz Pyles

Is it possible to ski one million vertical feet at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park in one season?

That’s what Mount Shasta resident Andy Klein decided to find out this year. Inspired by a ski patroller friend who wanted to find out how many laps he could make on the Coyote chairlift in one day (he did 30), Klein decided to set a goal for himself that was a little different.

Starting Dec. 28, skiing Friday through Monday and keeping track using a hand held GPS, Klein began making runs off the Douglas and Coyote chairlifts. Each run off the Douglas chair added 1,100 vertical feet. His favorite run is Rocky Ridge to Horizon, and he found he could make five laps an hour on a good day.

This past Saturday, March 2, Klein accomplished his goal and completed his millionth vertical foot. It took him 36 days.

Klein said he’s glad he did it, adding, “It was work. I’m glad it’s over.” He said he had to work at prolonging the day and not quitting if he was tired. He didn’t ski much with friends, because his whole focus was to accomplish the goal. “Now I’m skiing for fun,” he said.

Klein kept a log and each day he skied he wrote down his thoughts, the number of vertical feet, highest speed, weather, and distance traveled.

On Jan. 11 he wrote, “Cold, weird, lower Diamondback-epic.”

On Feb. 4, he noted that Douglas was closed, but said he still managed to ski Horizon from the Coyote chairlift.

A skier for the last seven or eight years, Klein said his skiing improved “very much.” He added, “How could it not with that much skiing?”

Klein moved to Mount Shasta in 1997 and works as a fire engine operator with the Forest Service. This was the first year in 15 that he missed opening weekend at the Ski Park, and it was because of the snow storm. He doesn’t ski powder, but he enjoys skiing all other snow conditions.

“There’s no such thing as bad snow,” Klein said. “There’s only dirt.”