The blue whale, McDonald's, Michael Jackson, Tokyo, Pele, the Hope Diamond and the Panama Canal now have a special kinship with a Utah ski area. All are record holders . . . world record holders.
As the sun moved toward the Oquirrh Mountains and the last tram locked into the loading dock at Snowbird on Thursday, 114 skiers put the finishing touches on a Mount Everest "de-ssault" and added the period to a new USA/Japan entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.The goal was for 100 skiers to each ski Mount Everest, or the equivalent of, in a day . . . 114 skiers made the final run down Chips Run for the necessary footage at 4:15 p.m.
The record will officially be for the most vertical feet skied by a group in one day. The final tally was 3,374,400 vertical feet, which is only slightly more than 114 Mount Everests stacked one atop another.
The summit of Everest is 29,028 feet above sea level. Ten tram rides to the summit of Hidden Peak, plus one chair ride up Peruvian is equivalent to about 29,600 vertical feet.
Each skier skied, top to bottom, a minimum of about 25 miles. As some skiers skied, however, it could have ended up at twice the distance.
According to John Loomis, director of mountain operations at Snowbird, 13 teams of 10 skiers each started the record attempt. The first teams left the loading docks at 7:45 a.m. The first team completed the required 10 runs about 1:30 p.m. and the last group caught the final tram at 3:45 p.m. in order to meet requirements. Only 16 skiers didn't make the necessary number of runs.
At 4 p.m., the 114 skiers with the required tram runs met at the base of the Peruvian lift and made the final vertical descent to the plaza finish area and official recognition and the signing of proper documents.
Directing the record attempt were Dick Bass, owner of Snowbird and the oldest man at age 55 to climb Mount Everest (1985), and Yuichiro Miura, the first man to ski Everest (1970). The two, along with Snowbird ski school director Junior Bounous, led the group down the final run.
Supporting the event, along with Snowbird, were K2 Ski Company, Seibu Department Stores of Japan, All Nippon Airways and Kirin.
The attempt came at the suggestion of Norris McWhirter, who started the Guinness record book along with his brother, Ross. McWhirter had skied at Snowbird earlier this year.
According to Bass, Snowbird, Seibu Department Stores and ANA were looking for an event that would involve both U.S. and Japanese skiers. McWhirter suggested the vertical record. Bass' and Miura's ties with Mount Everest were a natural tie-in with the record attempt.
Each skier was issued a special bib early Thursday with 10 empty squares. To authenticate the event, an official stamped each bib as the skier got on the tram and stamped it again as each disembarked.
At 4 p.m., skiers met at the Peruvian lift and filled-in bibs were counted by judges as skiers loaded onto the lift. With the final count sufficient for a record, the three - Bass, Miura and Bounous - led the other 111 skiers down the last leg to the record.
Neal Smith, vice president of planning and promotions, said Snowbird would like to make this an annual happening . . . "Each year we'd like to try for a new world record. Something new and exciting. We'd like to see what we can do for next year that was as successful as this.
"There was one suggestion that we drive a Subaru off the top of the mountain. That's an idea."
When will this record be broken? No one can guess right now. For now, however, Snowbird is home of the world record for Most Vertical in skiing, as the blue whale is the world's largest animal, the Hope is the largest diamond, Panama the largest canal . . . .