,000 consecutive days of skiing sets Guinness record
The Associated Press
ARTICLE BODY TEXT
Rainer Hertrich loves what he does so much that he hasn't taken a day off since Nov. 1, 2003.
No sick days. No vacation days. He doesn't need them.
all, Hertrich is not stuck in an office or making sales calls. He's
crisscrossing down another ski slope to keep his world-record streak
Hertrich reached the milestone of 1,000 consecutive days
of skiing when he barreled down Oregon's Timberline Ski area July 27.
Though he surpassed the next-longest streak long ago and already holds
a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, there's no sign the
ultimate ski bum plans to stop.
“To me, it's flat-out fun,” said
Hertrich, a 45-year-old telemark skier. “I don't know of any other
sport where you can go that fast on your feet.”
record was held by the British skier Arnie Wilson, who skied 365
consecutive days in 1994. Hertrich surpassed Wilson's mark in 2004 and
Hertrich follows winter by traveling from Oregon and
Colorado to Chile and Argentina, zigzagging the Americas to ski
year-round. When it's winter in the U.S., he'll be here. And when
summer comes, he ventures to the Andes for South America's winter.
It's there he finds the right conditions for the other world record Hertrich set in his marathon: vertical feet skied.
has already skied 34 million vertical feet. To put that into
perspective, on an average day he skis 33,000 vertical feet. That is
higher than Mount Everest.
“I'm going to South America for the
adventure and keeping up the vertical feet,” he said. “The adventure
part is really my reward to myself.”
In a telephone interview
from Oregon, Hertrich sounds like a man of few worries. He is not
married and has no children. There is no one to question his
His drive seems more for the adventure of the
next great downhill or a visit to a new locale to meet skiing friends
than it is to set a world record. Yet setting records is certainly on
“When I passed the first year mark, that was a big
mark,” he said. “When I passed 500 days, that was a big mark to me at
And while he's having way too much fun to contemplate
the accomplishment for too long, there was more than the usual
exuberance in his online diary following the day when he set the
record: “Great day, snow, and fun!!! I think I'll have to wake up alive
one more time and ski tomorrow.”
Hertrich lives and breathes the
cold environment. His day-to-day job as a snow groomer, manicuring and
maintaining the very slopes that he skis, suits his passion perfectly.
In the winter months, he works on Colorado's Copper Mountain, and in
the summer he helps maintain Mount Hood in Oregon during the race camp
Hertrich grew up in Boulder, Colo., learning to ski at
an early age. A typical career path was not in his future. He dreamed
of things beyond the confines of a classroom or an office cubicle.
“I didn't want to go to college. I thought about the outdoors while in class,” he recalled.
thoughts have not changed since he was young. The best part about
skiing is “the freedom, being up on the mountain, and the scenery.”
2003, his skiing endeavor began when he discovered an elite club at
Jackson, Wyo. — for those who had skied 6 million vertical feet in a
Hertrich was up for the challenge, and he soon surpassed that mark, skiing more than 7 million vertical feet.
“You have to ski every day,” he said, “and you have to ski a lot every day.”
all of this skiing, he began to wonder if he was near any record. He
was, and that's when his test of endurance against Mother Nature and
himself truly began.
He began logging his vertical elevation with a sophisticated altimeter watch. Skiing daily was an easier calculation to compute.
has weathered brutal conditions along the way. But he's continued to
ski — through bitter cold, frostbite, rain and illness.
“The worst days were when I'm camping in my tent, it's raining and I know I have to go,” he said.
have been close calls, too. Before flying to South America, for
example, he's learned to take pre-dawn runs on Mount Hood before going
to the airport on a travel day.
One time in Chile, he rented a
car at the airport and got lost in Santiago. He almost did not make it
to the slopes before the day was over. Another time, he hopped a bus to
the mountain not realizing it was the scenic route.
most bizarre, though, was when he hiked up an active volcano since it
had more snow to ski down than neighboring mountains during a dry spell
in Chile's winter.
Hertrich generally welcomes such obstacles
with open arms. “The adventure's great and I look forward to where it's
not all you expected it to be,” he said.
Hertrich realizes he's setting a marker for other skiers, and he encourages anyone who wants to take up the challenge.
He recalled some kids saying, “Oh, I'll beat that.”
His response: “Go right ahead, buddy!”
what about tomorrow's run? He paused and, without worry, said, “I'll be
happy if I can go out and ski tomorrow, since I'm 40 miles away from