Colorado skier reaches 2,000 straight days
Summit County Correspondent
FRISCO, Colorado ” Sitting in the barroom of Frisco’s Blue Spruce Inn, Wednesday evening, Rainer Hertrich, 47, took a moment to decide on his drink order. He adjusted his Spyder ballcap and sat back in his chair. Then a wide grin emerged from underneath his bushy, blond fu manchu mustache.
“I’m celebrating,” he said with a laugh and ordered himself a cocktail.
It was a milestone day for Hertrich, who had just reached his 2,000th consecutive day of skiing. No, that’s not a typo. Hertrich has strapped on his telemark skis and hit the slopes every single day since November 1, 2003.
“It just keeps rolling,” Hertrich said of the record streak. “That’s how I look at it. I’m not going to make excuses to miss a day.”
And he hasn’t, not once in five years, five months and 22 days.
Hertrich has endured through rain, sleet, severe temperatures, a separated shoulder, four broken ribs and even had to avoid a herd of llamas once in South America.
“It’s been pretty wild,” he said.
The streak began as, what Hertrich called, a “vertical quest.”
In the spring of 2003, Hertrich was sitting in the Mangy Moose Restaurant and Saloon in Jackson Hole, Wyo., when he and his skiing buddies noticed a club that the restaurant had for people who had skied at least 6 million vertical feet in a single season.
“I was looking at that and thinking, ‘Well, I did about 4 million last year and I skied 250 days,'” Hertrich said. “But those days weren’t consecutive, so I figured I could get some more days in.”
Hertrich and his friends did the math. He realized that if he skied 33,000 vertical each day for six months, without missing a single day, he could top the mark.
“Good luck,” Hertrich joked.
Luckily, Hertrich had the perfect job to attempt the feat as a groomer for Copper Mountain Resort. And when Copper opened for Day 1 of the 2003-04 ski season, he was already making his runs.
As the Colorado ski season came to a close that next June, Hertrich was sitting at an astounding 7 million vertical feet.
“I was thinking that it had to be some sort of record,” he recalled. “So, I figured ” since I didn’t have a job yet for the summer ” I could try to make it out to Oregon without missing a day of skiing and keep it going.”
That’s what he did, while making a few stops in Utah on the way, and eventually wound up taking a flight to South America to ski for the summer.
“I had always wanted to go to South America,” Hertrich said. “I looked up some ski resorts and managed to make it out there without missing a day.”
Hertrich has kept this yearly circle of skiing going ever since, although, it hasn’t been easy.
Hertrich said he’s had many days that he nearly missed a train or a flight to get to the next ski destination. He’s had to get lifts up the hill in snowcats, snowmobiles, four wheelers and once in a helicopter when the ski resorts had closed due to severe weather.
All in all, Hertrich seems as amazed about his streak as anyone.
“I’ve had so many days where, if everything happened five minutes later, I would have never made it,” he said. “Somehow, it’s still going.”
Though Wednesday’s mark of 2,000 is well beyond his own Guinness World Record he set a few years back, it’s the vertical feet that Hertrich is more concerned about.
“The whole thing has been about the vertical, not the days,” he said, noting that he’s recorded all of his runs electronically in order to calculate the vertical feet. “People see the days and think it’s pretty amazing, but they don’t really realize how many vertical feet that is.”
Hertrich, as of Wednesday, was at nearly 66 million vertical feet since the streak began. He said that reaching that mark is most important to him.
For now, he’s not sure how much longer the streak will continue.
“We’ll see,” he said. “(Wednesday) was a big mile marker for me.”