Colorado’s highest skier: Steamboat father 1st to ski 1M vertical feet on Ikon app
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In years past, it has been a tradition for dogged skiers and riders to try to log as many days as possible on the mountain.
But on Monday, Jan. 15, Steamboat Springs resident Jeff Gebauer set a new record, becoming the first to ski 1 million vertical feet using the Ikon Pass’ mobile app.
That comes out to almost 190 miles, enough to travel through Earth’s atmosphere surface to the boundary of outer space three times with a few miles to spare. He skied all of that distance at Steamboat Resort.
The free app, unveiled in November, tracks users’ activity at the various Ikon resorts and displays leaderboards for skiers and riders to compare their stats to other pass holders.
Gebauer was ahead of the competition by about 200,000 vertical feet when he reached the millionth mark. Knowing he was about to set the record, he invited his wife, Sarah, and their four children to ski with him on Monday.
“I love nothing more than skiing with my kids and family,” Gebauer said.
He tucked his youngest, 3-year-old Eric, into his backpack for the day to access more of the mountain. As Gebauer skied from Vagabond to Betwixt, near where the trail crosses under the Thunderhead Express chairlift, he surpassed 1 million vertical feet.
The accomplishment has not come with any tangible reward, but like the leaderboards on arcade games, being first carries a sense of pride and notoriety, particularly in the skiing community.
A stay-at-home dad, Gebauer usually has to forego skiing to care for his young children. Nestling 3-year-old Eric into a backpack — an idea Gebauer got watching fellow dads last season — has helped him rack up ski days along with mileage. He said he has not missed a day this season.
“The only downside this year is that we are trying to get Eric to actually ski, and he just wants to be in the backpack,” Gebauer said.
He is part of a group of fathers who occasionally ski together at the resort, working together to wrangle their children down trails — a process his friend, Clint Musgrove, said is not unlike herding cats.
Musgrove has five children around the same age as Gebauer’s troop, making it easier for the two dads to ski together.
“The kids like skiing together, and the dads can go have fun as well,” he said.
Musgrove said the Ikon Pass app has been a helpful addition to this winter season. He uses it to locate and connect with fellow fathers on the resort.
The app also creates a unique, competitive aspect, Musgrove said, which has inspired people like Gebauer to see how far up the leaderboards they can get.
“He’s been really dedicated to it,” Musgrove said of Gebauer’s million vertical feet. “I think it’s a cool accomplishment to do something like that.”
It is unclear if Alterra Mountain Co. — the owner of Steamboat Resort and the Ikon Pass — has any plans to recognize the winners of the various metrics on the app. Representatives did not immediately answer questions regarding this inquiry.
Steamboat Resort holds an annual award ceremony for skiers and riders who log the most days at the ski area, and each season a small handful of people never miss a day.
While his dad duties may complicate such an accolade, Gebauer can take pride knowing he already has made history, even if family and fans are his only audience.
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