And on Jan. 1, 2024, BHS Class of 2012 graduate Noah Dines plans to reach great heights on repeat nearly every single day for the entire calendar year.
Dines has been preparing to set the record for the most human-powered vertical feet skied in a calendar year. His goal is to ski three million uphill vertical feet between Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2024. That equates to skiing six-to-nine hours per day uphill for ideally around 9,000 vertical feet per day (equivalent to the elevation of Mount Everest every three to four days) reserving only a cumulative few weeks or so worth of days without skiing for travel, rest, or unforeseen delays.
Dines began skiing casually with family while growing up in Bedford. Through signing up for Bedford Recreation Department trips – Wednesdays at Nashoba Valley and Fridays at Wachusett Mountain – Dines learned to ski independently, having the freedom to go where he wanted to go and make his own challenges. (Dines pointed out that one of the most influential skiers in history, Doug Coombs, was also from Bedford and learned to ski at Nashoba.)
From Bedford, Dines graduated from the University of Connecticut and then moved to midcoast Maine, where at 22-23 years old he joined a community highly engaged and enthusiastic about different sorts of outdoor activities. He picked up skiing again and was truly introduced to backcountry skiing. Soon after, he moved from Maine to Stowe, VT, which he now calls home.
Along with the friends, the opportunities, and the skiing community culture, Stowe has Dines’ heart – the mountains are so close by and accessible that many people get in a couple of hours of skiing before heading to work in the morning, and might grab a few more by headlight after work.
In Stowe, Dines’ northeast ski network strengthened and grew and so did his love and enjoyment of skiing, especially backcountry skiing. Backcountry skiing involves skiing in unmonitored and unrestricted areas compared to a traditional resort or mountain with ski lifts, ski patrols, and groomed trails.
In Dines’ niche of backcountry skiing, skiers carry little-to-nothing with them – lightweight skis, boots, and bindings, and use skins for their skis. Dines explains a skin as a “mono-directional carpet that attaches to each ski with a special formula glue and is used when going uphill.” The mono-directional nature of the nylon or mohair skins (originally made of seal skin) helps provide some traction and prevent a skier from sliding backward down a mountain. The skins are removed before going downhill (Dines rolls the skins up and slips them in his pocket for the trip down.)
There’s little other gear needed for the sort of backcountry skiing Dines enjoys most – in areas with an avalanche risk Dines may carry a small backpack with an avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, and perhaps food and water, but most of the time, minimizing weight carried is an advantage on long days and steep climbs, so he doesn’t carry any extra gear.
As Dines began dedicating more and more of his time to skiing (he has worked as a ski coach and a private tutor with flexible hours) and meeting more people, Dines began to notice he typically wasn’t quite as tired as his companions at the end of a long day, and he recovered quickly – waking up ready to go the next morning, where others might be sore or need more rest.
In February of this year, while returning home from a road trip, he had an epiphany that he could attempt to set the record for most vertical feet skied in a year. As time passed, he couldn’t shake the idea (especially the part about skiing almost all day every day) and it has grown from a what-if idea to a plan.
Within Dines’ fellowship of skiers around Stowe is Aaron Rice, the current record holder for human-powered vertical feet skied at just over 2.5 million feet in a year set in 2016. Rice explained in a podcast that the 2.5 million feet took a lot of mental fortitude, but to add the additional elevation in each day that Dines has planned to reach 3 million will require an exceptional physical component. Rice said that Dines’ natural and honed athleticism gives him an edge to ski longer, harder, and faster and then recover quicker than other skiers, which sets Dines up to be able to reach the 3 million feet goal.
Dines is motivated to attempt this record because of how much he loves skiing and how much joy skiing brings to him. The idea of “skiing every day will mean even more joy.” He’s also interested in trying to do something difficult, dedicating himself to an effort (which at 29 years old, he says he hasn’t done before), pushing himself, and hopefully by achieving his goal he will “inspire others to do hard things.”
Check back tomorrow to find out more details about the planning and what is next on Noah Dine’s Quest for 3 Million Feet. [Part two was published on Wednesday, Nov. 1, and can be found here: https://thebedfordcitizen.org/2023/11/part-two-bhs-graduate-noah-dines-is-on-a-quest-to-set-a-ski-record-in-2024/]
Support the journey by donating to Noah Dine’s Quest for 3 Million GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-quest-for-3-million