The Longest Run: Ski Like an Engineer

Here in the United States, ski season will come to a close in a few weeks. There’s time left to squeeze in one last run, and if you ask Contributing Blogger Cathy Healy, she’ll recommend it be a long one.
Engineers don’t approach the mountains like we reporters, which means you can count on an engineer to give you memorable stories. With huge dumps of snow in the United States this year, I asked an engineer pal in Buenos Aires if he planned to come skiing up here. Last August, he had emailed me: “Just returned from Las Leñas in Argentina, 93 miles of skiing accomplished, with zero access to Internet.”

C’mon. How could he know that? Pedometers can’t translate glides into steps.

Yet I discovered his method was quite primitive:

• Get a large trail map.

• Steal a ruler from your son.

• Get pen and paper to note calculated distances.

• Pull out your record pad and carefully record number of trails and number of runs.

• Figure out the length of the trails using the simple rule of three, based on the known length of the three successive runs at Las Leñas, which are advertised as the longest runs in South America at 14.9 miles.

Meanwhile, I’m armchair skiing and wondering how to log 100 miles in a week. Consider one of these “ski equations” after the jump:

  • You’ll have to ski the 13.7 miles of Chamonix’s Vallée Blanche glacier in France 7.3 times to hit the 100 mile mark. Perhaps the longest run in the world through the French wilderness, it all starts with a 45-minute, adrenaline climb down an icy ridge led by a mountain guide, wearing crampons while you carry your skis on your shoulders. Can you do the Vallée every day to hit the magic 100 in a week?A nameless, ex-army Brit told Trip Advisor: “I was extremely fit at the time…but because my technique was poor, I found the Vallée Blanche…the most physically demanding thing I have ever done. You could have fried eggs on my thighs at the bottom!”
Book your next trip with Peace of Mind
Search Trips
  • Jump in a cable car and ride to the top of Zermatt‘s Klein Matterhorn in Switzerland. Twenty-nine peaks rise to an elevation of 13,000 feet, providing stunning panoramic views of Europe. An 8-mile run from summit to village means you’ll have to altitude adjust 12.5 times to clock 100 miles.
  • Do 22.3 runs down Vail‘s Riva Ridge in Colorado, one of the longest U.S. runs at 4.5 miles. “It’s fabulous! It’s nice and long; it has a friendly pitch and they groom it all the time,” said my brother’s brother-in-law, John Bailey, from a Vail chairlift. Added John, 68, a retired engineer: “It’s an easy black diamond.”

Meanwhile my favorite long run is Keystone, Colorado’s Schoolmarm, an extreme bunny slope where I have floated from the top of the mountain to the bottom for 3.5 miles of zen bliss. Umm, I could make 28.6 runs and I’d have my 100 miles. The last laugh’s on me: Engineers ski; reporters report.

SKI REPORT: Vail Resorts close on Sunday, April 24. Keystone closes Sunday, April 10. Chamonix closes around the end of April. Don’t fret, Las Leñas opens on June 18 and Zermatt’s Klein Matterhorn is open year-round.

Photo: Above, Chamonix’s Vallée Blanche by Pierce Currid/My Shot; Below, Vail’s Riva Ridge by Jack Affleck courtesy of Vail Resorts.

Read This Next

This ancient marvel rivaled Rome’s intricate network of roads
Visiting Switzerland? Here’s what the locals love
How to visit Grand Teton National Park

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet