The Vert Top 10 of 2018

A hearty congratulations to Sue Armstrong~!  Sue was the first lady to win an overall Vert Title at Whitefish Mountain Resort on Big Mountain.

Here below is your reigning Top 10:

Who’s going to earn it this year?  Get it done!

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The Top 100 Vert Seasons 2018

Without further adieu, here’s the Top 100 seasons skied during the 15 years of the Vert era on Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort.


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Ladies Top 10 of 2018

Here is the first installment of the updated, much awaited, current Vert Records (as of the 2018 season) at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Just in time to reference for the pending new season, here’s the Ladies Top 10 from 2018, the most recently completed, 15th season of the Vert Era in Whitefish.



Have at it Ladies.  This was last season’s benchmark.  Lets see what you bring this year!






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The Top 100 Vert Seasons 2017

Once again, I present the Top 100 Seasons list. Here is your 2017 edition. This list highlights the 100 biggest seasons skied on the Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort over the last 14 years.

There were no records this season, but there were some personal bests and a few newcomers to this list.  And given the nature of a list like this, new people skiing their way on to it, means that the folks at the bottom of last year’s list get bumped off to make room. The arc is ever upward.

As I predicted in last year’s Top 100 article, this year’s skiing has taken 100th place above 2.5 million vertical feet.  In fact, local character and friend, R.J. Brewer currently holds 100th place, at 2,505,236′.  It’s a good thing you’ve got that 4 Million season in the books R.J….because I think were going up near 2,560,000′ with this list next season.

The Top 7 skiers from this season all earned places on this list.  You’ll see their names and places highlighted by a Gold star on the list below.

But before we get to that, allow me to share a few facts about the list.

Once again 33 people own the Top 100 seasons of the Big Mountain Vert Era.  87 of the 100 seasons are held by skiers.  13 places are held by snowboarders.

Two newcomers joined the cast, Cindy Klein (at 53rd) and Frank Creasia (at 56th), took spaces vacated by Roger Elliot and Jim Robertson, who dropped off the list.

Fred Frost owns 14 places on this list and fourteen people own 1 place.  There appears to be a beautiful symmetry in that.  Fred generally skis more than the average 14 folks.

Of Fred’s 14 places, amazingly he owns 10 of the Top 25 seasons!  And in case you wondered, that is why skiing over 4 million feet earns you a “Fred Frost” Award on the Whitefish Mountain Resort Vertical Tracker Website.

I own 10 places on this list.  Russ Carpenter owns 9.  John Gibson owned 8 on last year’s list, but had one of the 7 that were bumped off the bottom this year, so he now owns 7 places.   But John also works full-time and travels all over the place during ski season. Seven places isn’t too shabby for full-time employment and part-time snowboarding.

Rick Sawyer owns 6.  And coincidentally, Rick joins Sue Armstrong as the 2nd person who rode every day this season, despite not making any lists this year.  Rick and John represent the only (primary) snowboarders on this list–though you might occasionally spot either one of them on a pair of skis.   They are talented people….as you would never catch me on a snowboard.  I value my intact spinal column too much.

Tony Cooper owns 5 places, including 2 of the Top 10.

Two people, Chris Chapman (Chappy) and Albin Kwolek, own four places.

Five people own 3 places–Steve Cook, Pat King, K Yobst, Steve Calger and Mark (aka John) Sanman.

Six people own 2 places.  They are:  R.J. Brewer, Sue Armstrong, Giles Hunt, Jerry Hagen, Paul Descoteau, and Steve Sliper.

And the fourteen people owning one entry on this list are: Ken Jones (at the Top), Travis Gray, David Thiel, Paul Badgley, Jim Bailey, Cindy Klein, Frank Creasia, David Keith, Jeanne Reichstadt, Rex Rupp, Mark Panicek, Tom McCrea, John Wachsmuth, and Eric Walberg.

The 7 folks who lost a place on the list (to make room for this year’s Top 7) were:  K Yobst, John Wachsmuth, Steve Calger, Roger Elliot, John Gibson, Sue Armstrong, and Jim Robertson.   And as mentioned above, of these 7 people, Roger Elliot and Jim Robertson are the two people who dropped out of the Top 100 altogether.

Without further adieu, here’s the new list.


Now that you see the mark, come and get it.   It will never be easier than next season to ski your way on to this list. And if I had to guess, next year will push the bottom of this list up into the 2.56 million range.  That is no casual ski season.  It’s now or never to show us what you’ve got.   JDPF



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The Vert Top 10 of 2017

Another great ski season is in the books and another Top 10 list is coming at you below!

This year’s vert competition was a tale of three parts.  The early season belonged to last year’s king and all-time record-holder Ken Jones.  Ken began on a quest to break last year’s record (8 Million plus vertical feet) performance. As the season began, we (local skiers) all read the Flathead Beacon article, entitled Man on a Mission, highlighting Ken’s brilliant success last season and detailing his off-season conditioning regimen and his readiness to shatter the record from last year.

Ken began in earnest, fighting through the unusually cold early season, skiing huge days, while the rest of us slowly skied our way into shape.  Ken skied over 880,000′ in the first two weeks of the season.   He was well on his way.

Unfortunately for Ken, a freak microburst storm hit the mountain on the afternoon of December 20th, 2016.  As it hit, I had just gotten off of Chair 2 and was headed toward the Jesus statue.

About half way there, the 74 mile per-hour winds lifted the snow off of the adjacent trees and created a virtual whiteout, whereby you couldn’t see your hands holding your poles in front of your face.  The winds and whiteout continued for at least a minute, maybe two. The only safe thing to do in that time was to stay in one spot and wait for it to pass.

In Ken’s case, he was skiing the Big Ravine, at speed, when the winds/whiteout hit.  He lost his edges/footing and crashed, dislocating his shoulder in the process.   Ken got himself a trip to the hospital, where they knocked him out and put his shoulder back in place.   Ken then took 2-3 days off, with his arm in a sling.   After a few days of that, without a lot of residual pain, Ken resumed skiing for 8 more days.  He skied his way to 1,332,874′ before the end of December.   Ken was several hundred thousand vertical feet ahead of the nearest competitor, when at the end of that 8th ski day, while taking his jacket off, he dislocated his shoulder again.   This time it was a season ender.  Ken had surgery a few months later and is currently rehabilitating his surgically repaired shoulder back into shape.  We look forward to seeing you back doing your thing next season Ken!

Once Ken got hurt, the question arose as to who would set the pace and maybe go on to win this year’s competition.   It was no surprise to anyone, that four-time winner and long-time Vert powerhouse, Fred Frost took that challenge.  Fred passed Ken’s early season mark in early-mid January.  Fred skied his way into a comfortable lead ahead of the nearest challengers and held on to 1st Place through the middle third of the season.

In late February, I passed Fred, overcoming what had been a 600,000 feet deficit, after early season tooth woes, cost me 8 days of skiing.   I started slowly this season, took more days off than usual,  but had a middle-section of the season where I skied like Ken Jones and Tony Cooper both did in their record-setting seasons.   During the mid-section of this season, I slowly but surely whittled away at Fred’s lead.

Had it not been for Tony and Ken both showing us that 60,000 feet days can routinely be done in a 9:00-4:00 ski day, I wouldn’t have known to even try.  When I decided to try and catch Fred, I knew that my greatest resource was time.  So, I set about getting to the mountain early and skiing big days, and I used the night skiing time as a tool too.   To ski big days, I sacrificed variety and social ski time, to focus on efficiency and numbers.  Both choices were calculated and a direct homage to Tony and Ken’s previous feats.   I offer my apologies to those who might’ve hoped to have skied more with me.  Hopefully, we’ll get our chance next season.

This season, I earned my 4th Vert Title, tying Fred Frost for the most all-time.  I also earned my 10th consecutive Top 3 (proverbial Podium) finish and 10th consecutive appearance on this list.  Over my ten years of Vert Competition, I have skied to 4 first, 4 second, and 2 third place finishes.   And whether its coincidence or not, I am not sure,  I have won the Vert Competition during each of the La Nina, deepest snow seasons.  My first win was in the 426 inch season of the 2007-08. My 2nd win was in the La Nina of 2010-11. And this year brought us 407 inches.  Deep snow appears to be my friend and ally.

And through all of that, I believe I am most proud of my record of safe skiing and overall durability through whatever the Big Mountain and mother nature throw at us. During this past 10 years I’ve learned to ski well and I’d like to think I ski smart…but skiing smart is something you have to prove with each turn you make, each run you ski, day in, day out, year in, year out.  The next run is more important than the last.  Tomorrow is more important than today.  And staying healthy today is paramount to skiing tomorrow.

But enough about me and my ski philosophy.

This year’s Top 10, like every other one in our Vert history, gave us a mix of old and new faces.

Fred Frost earned his 14th straight Top 10, finishing 2nd.   This was Fred’s 13th Podium (Top 3) finish, after missing out last season.  Fred remains a pillar of consistency and durability and he ensures that whomever wins will put in the time to earn it.

Sue Armstrong, our Ladies Vert Record-holder and back to back Ladies Vert Champ, earned her first Podium, coming in 3rd, in her third consecutive Overall Top 10 finish.  Sue also skied every day this ski season. Congratulations are in order for all of that.  Well-done Sue~!

Albin Kwolek skied his 5th Top 10 season, finishing 4th, well over 3.5 Million feet.

Newcomer of the year, Cindy Klein, skied (despite her surgically repaired knee) into 5th place, posting 3.14 Million vertical feet.   Cindy proved that the discussion of possibly amputating her leg, vice fixing it, was a premature thought.  We all admire your tenacity and are glad that you fought your way back.  Congratulations Cindy~!

Another newcomer to the Top 10, Frank Creasia, came in just behind Cindy at 3.12 Million feet, finishing 6th. Welcome to the Top 10 Frank!

Finishing 7th, Paul Descoteau skied a personal best 2.88 Million feet, earning back to back Top 10’s.  Often seen skiing with Sue, Paul always has a smile on his face and offers a kind word.

Mark Sanman earned his 4th straight Top 10, finishing a run shy of 2.4 million feet.

The 3rd newcomer to the Top 10 Club is Jim Petersen. Jim surpassed his ski goals, powering his way past 2.3 Million feet and into Vert History.  I enjoyed riding with you and getting to know you a bit this season.   Congratulations Jim~!

And rounding out the Top 10 again this season, just like last, former Ladies Record-holder Jeanne Reichstadt skied her way into 10th over the final week of the season.  Jeanne passing former Ski Instructor Alex Bucur with just a few days to spare.  This is Jeanne’s 5th Top 10 performance.  Congratulations Jeanne~!

On that note, here’s the list.





The skiers of Whitefish Mountain Resort just completed the 14th season of the modern “Vert” era.  The vert era began when the resort, known then as The Big Mountain Resort, started empirically tracking the number of times patrons rode chairlifts.  If you ride the lifts up, you must then ski down.   Each lift services a known number of vertical feet. Tracking the lifts ridden, reveals the skiers who ski the most.

From the beginning, the vertical (shortened to vert perhaps because we humans are verbally lazy) competition was a huge hit with the locals.  People skied hard, to beat their peers, to win the prizes the resort offered, and to earn the bragging rights.

After a few years of cutthroat competition, the Resort de-emphasized its recognition of winners, but continued to scan passes and track the vertical of folks.  I moved to Whitefish and began competing just after the de-emphasis began.

Fourteen years of vert have yielded 6 winners of the competition.  Chris Chapman (aka Chappy) won the first two seasons.  Fred Frost won the 3rd season, then went on to win 3 more times (in the 6th, 7th and 11th seasons).  John Gibson won the fourth season.   Yours truly won the fifth season, and also went on to win 3 more times (8th, 12th and 14th seasons), including this year.  Tony Cooper won back to back in the 9th and 10th seasons, breaking Chappy’s original record.  And Ken Jones broke Tony’s record last year.

For the past 6 years or so, I’ve been honored to keep the Vert Records here on this website. Vert isn’t for everybody.  Some care, some don’t.  For those who do, these pages/posts are for you.

If you think you have it in you to compete and win, come on up and join us.  Cheers from the Big Mountain.  JDPF

Posted in Skiing the Big Mountain, Vert Records | 1 Comment

The Ladies Top 10 of 2017

Give it up for the Ladies of Big Mountain, Whitefish in 2016-17~! They enjoyed our La Nina season with a gusto commensurate to the snowfall–deep and profoundly entertaining! This year’s Ladies’ Top 10 included many established faces and a few, fresh new ones.

Sue Armstrong won her second consecutive ladies’ title (and followed her record-breaking season last year) with a 3.6 million feet season!  If she hadn’t skied 3.9 Million feet last year, this season would’ve been the Ladies record.  Sue also skied all 124 days this year…which in many respects is even harder than accumulating all that vert.  Sue finished 3rd overall in the Big Mountain vert competition, becoming the 2nd lady (along with K Yobst in 2015) to achieve an overall podium (Top 3) finish.  Sue was exceptional on all accounts. Outstanding effort, well done Sue~!

Cindy Klein finished 2nd, in her first season skiing in the vert competition.  Cindy came in over 3.1 Million feet in her debut, also finishing 5th overall.  Congratulations Cindy~!  I enjoyed witnessing your obvious joy and enthusiasm at skiing the Big Mountain with the heavy hitters.  I’d say your knee is back.

Finishing 3rd, with a furious finish to gain her 5th overall Top 10, was Ladies Vert powerhouse and former record-holder Jeanne Reichstadt.  Jeanne came in a hair under 2.2 million feet, despite being clobbered by a snowboarder from behind during this year’s Pond Skim event.  I don’t know how many years in a row this makes for Jeanne in the Ladies Top 10, but I believe it to be at least 11 (*).   Jeanne is a pillar of consistency and durability–snowboarders notwithstanding!

Coming in at 4th was Joanne Gill, with her 3rd consecutive Ladies Top 10.

Nancy Cohn finished 5th this year, in her 5th (*) Ladies Top 10, after missing out in 2016. Welcome back Nancy!

Sherry Foti came in 6th, with her 4th consecutive Ladies Top 10.

K Yobst battled some pesky injuries but finished with her 6th consecutive and 8th overall (*) Ladies Top 10.

Tamie Bodenhamer also made her debut to the Ladies Top 10.  Welcome aboard Tamie!

Sylvia Spangler led the lady Super Seniors with her 3rd consecutive appearance on this list. Nicely done Sylvia!

And just so you know where this season fits into the historical record.  Below is the Top 10 Seasons skied by the Ladies over the last 14 years.  I offer a few facts to give some perspective to the numbers.

Five ladies own these 10 seasons.  Sue Armstrong owns three places, including the Top 2. K Yobst owns four places, and Jeanne Reichstadt, Cindy Klein, and Sandie Carpenter own 1 place each.

Jeanne Reichstadt was the first lady to ski through the 3 million feet barrier, setting the Ladies record ten years ago.  K Yobst broke that record in 2015.   And Sue Armstrong broke K’s record in 2016.

And five times a lady has skied over 3 Million feet.  This year was the first when two ladies did so.   I’d say the Ladies are on an upswing.  Perhaps we’ll see three over 3 million next year…and its only a matter of time till a lady breaks through 4 million feet.

Again a hearty congratulations to the Ladies of the Big Mountain~!

There’s no question the Ladies of Big Mountain are terrific, dedicated skiers.  Who among you wants to see your name on these lists? And who’s gonna be the first to get 4 million? Or even 5 million?


A few administrative notes of clarification follow.

(*) – I’ve been keeping the Ladies Top 10 Records since the 2011-12 season.  I cannot offer any details about the Ladies records (or their Top 10 lists) before that, except as they intersect with the overall Top 10 records.   I do have the overall Top 10 records dating back to the 1st season (2003-2004)–courtesy of Fred Frost.   Fred gave me copies of his hard copy records 6-7 years ago.  From those I began an Excel spreadsheet–that begat another and another that continues to this day. Fortunately, the ladies have been appearing on the overall Top 10 lists for over 10 years now–hence I do have the ability to maintain the Top 15-20 Ladies’ seasons of 14 year vert era (from 2003-2004 to this just finished season).

I remain unaffiliated with Whitefish Mountain Resort–except as a candidate for most enthusiastic patron.  I do count many friends among the employees and everyday patrons of the resort.  I enjoy seeing and hanging with you on a daily basis.  See you on the hill.

As always, I welcome constructive inputs to correct or complete the record.  JDPF



Posted in Skiing the Big Mountain, Vert Records | 1 Comment

Rosie Foster Murphy Obituary

For the second time in under a year, we announce with great sadness, the passing of another of our beloved pack. Our sweet little Rosie passed at 3:35 am Sunday 26 June 2016. She lived an all-too short 12 years and 26 days.

Like Lady & Scoober before her, Rosie lived a life that most other dog’s would truly envy. She saw her share of the world, had a great home with a favorite nest in each room, and a predictable routine with lots of good food and regular, invigorating exercise in the mountain air, lakes and streams.Lady - Rosie - Uncle Jay - Lake McDonald

Rosie lived the good life until mid-day last Monday (20 June 2016), when something inside her seemingly broke. She was unsteady on her feet and walking around with her tail tucked away between her legs in apparent severe pain. At the time we didn’t know what it was, but thought she may have eaten something toxic (maybe chocolate or dead animal, etc).

When we got her to the vet for treatment, she had a 104.9 degree temperature (dog normal is in the 101-102 range). She was also nearly in septic shock with a white cell count as low as our vet ever sees. She was one sick puppy, and on top of that, they found a large mass in her abdominal cavity.

So they treated the fever and infection and tried to figure out if the mass was the source of her extreme discomfort. On Wednesday, during a laparoscopic procedure, the vet determined that the mass was attached to her cecum (sort of a dog appendix) and likely removable. He then opened her up and removed them both.

Over the next few days we continued to treat her pain and infection and tried to give her a shot at a rebound. From Wednesday evening to Friday, the presumptive diagnosis moved toward peritonitis, as her pain and discomfort continued and proved difficult to manage.

Then Friday we found out that the removed mass was a malignant sarcoma, fairly aggressive, and likely already spread.

The poor kiddo couldn’t get a break. Given the number of ailments she was fighting simultaneously, we felt that if there was going to be any sort of chance at a bounce back, it might take a few more days of recovery time, taking us through the weekend.

Mike’s tender loving care was able to coax her to drink and get some broth down…but she never could bring herself to eat again.Uncle Mike Caregiving

Saturday evening she began a downhill slide. Her body temperature felt really hot to the touch. We got her some ice packs and eventually were able to cool and calm her for a few hours of modest rest, albeit with her eyes open, and reasonably alert.

She watched me watching her for quite a spell…and around 3:30 am, Mike got up from a few-hour nap and came down to be with us. She watched him enter, alertly following his movement with her eyes. He greeted and petted her.  After which, she then turned her head, put it back on her pillow and within a minute, her heart just quit.

We both felt, in that moment, that she had waited for her beloved Uncle Mike to come back in, before she passed on. He was her rock and refuge. She was his faithful and loyal companion.Rosie - Uncle Mike Refuge (3)

Rosie was a great pack contributor over time…but had some difficulty early in life. Please indulge me the telling, as it is therapy for me right now.

Rosie was a Foster before she was a Murphy. I adopted her, in August of 2004, at three months old from a Pueblo shelter that had set up shop one Saturday outside a Petco in Colorado Springs. I observed the litter she was a part of, with its 6 bruising males, bouncing around, stepping on and biting each other, and a really sweet, seemingly well adjusted, calm female among the 3 females. So I got in line to tell them which of the Jack Russell, Chihuahua, Sharpei mix pups I wanted.Sweet Rosie

As fate would have it, the lady in line in front of me, asked for and got that very female. So, I went back to the litter, and found Rosie. She seemed a little car-sick or something, slightly groggy or nauseated, but generally sweet too, as I interacted with her.

So I chose her, signed the paperwork and we were on our way home. But before I got out of the parking lot, my heretofore unnamed Rosie was pooping green puppy poop on my grey leather backseat interior in my truck. All of my best, consoling, cajoling tones and dog-speak had no effect on the dog who didn’t know me yet. And she obviously wasn’t over her ride up from Pueblo, and here I was making her ride again. Such was the inauspicious beginning of Rosie and I sharing a pack.

About this time, still in the parking lot, cleaning up poop, my cell phone rang. Mike was calling me from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to tell me he had arranged to get me a Cocker (Lady) from his nephew Steve.

Had he called 20 minutes earlier, we’d likely have never known Rosie.

As it turned out, Rosie became the most challenging dog of my adult life. She had Jack Russell purpose, tenacity and keen-mindedness, with Chihuahua alert to danger instincts. It was an odd, new mix for me, as I’d become accustomed to the mellow of old Cockers.

Rosie looked strikingly similar to Santa’s Little Helper, the Simpsons’ cartoon dog. Santa's Little HelperAnd she had some comically quirky behaviors.   For example, when she decided it was bedtime, she went up and went to bed, no matter what anyone or any other dog was doing. Likewise, if people were visiting and needing a place to sit on her couch, she would look up at them, as if asking, “where are you going to sit? Because this is my spot.”   It often made me cringe, as I would hustle her down from her refuge.  But I knew I was the one who had conditioned her to believe that up on the couch (or the chair or the bed) was her comfortable, safe zone.

Just as Lady never met a stranger, Rosie felt all strangers were the bogeyman, until proven otherwise, repeatedly. And even people she knew, were the bogeyman while they were walking up the stairs to the house.  She was consistent that way.

And she hated being left alone. My job requirements in Colorado Springs brought out an anxiety in her that only shredding man-made items would quell. Rather than leaving her puppy self to have free reign in the house during my duty day, I would leave her in a closed, tiled bathroom, with nesting materials in it.  I would come home to a scene that could only be explained by running a towel thru an industrial shredder, along with a roll of toilet paper. Basically everything below the countertop was absolutely destroyed.

So I adjusted, instead leaving her in a crate, along with something soft to lie on …but she destroyed that too. I became convinced that if I’d have left a brick in the crate, she’d have found a way to shred it also.

But her finest incorrigible, youthful moment was the 48-pack of toilet paper incident. You know what they look like, a big cube of plastic, wrapped around 12 (also wrapped) four-packs of TP. I had bought the cube and brought it home and set it in the living room floor, and then I went shopping elsewhere.

When I came home, the pile in the living room looked like the remnants of an overturned toilet paper delivery truck, after being run thru the aforementioned industrial shredder. Of the 48 rolls, maybe five were mostly in tact. Another half dozen or so were gnawed on but could be partially salvaged for use in my bathroom. And the rest were a total loss/shred fest. Three dozen rolls (and all the plastic wrappings)  were completely shredded. Unbelievable~!

I nearly lost my mind. This dog needed more full-time love and attention. But my love came with limited patience and a full-time job.  And I had a proven “rolled up newspaper” dog-training strategy.  It had served me well with Cocker pups. It just did not seem to work that way with her. After negligible results, I had to learn and adjust to find what worked with Rosie.

In the end, it took her Uncle Mike to patiently coax the full time “good girl” out of Rosie.

I  initially felt like Rosie was put here to teach me patience…

Until I moved to Montana and our pack became 5. Lady imprinted on me…and Rosie upon Mike.

Over time, Mike truly brought out the best in Rosie. She loved his patience and consistent, evenhanded approach. It calmed her anxious tendencies and she flourished.  And in some ways, I’d say Rosie coaxed the best out of Mike.Rosie - Uncle Mike

On multiple occasions, Rosie fearlessly stood up for the pack. The day our neighbor’s dog (twice her size) leaped from a vehicle and ran 100-yards to attack us (Mike and I with Lady & Rosie on leashes), Rosie met that dogs aggression with her own, getting the best of it, while protecting all of us. I erringly tried to restrain her, burning huge blisters on my hand pulling on the retractable leash cable.  I should have let her go at it unrestrained. That was the day I knew without a doubt that she would selflessly represent our pack. She’d fight for us and ours, without being an instigator. She had both a strong will and a heart in the right place.  She was one of us, willing to fight for the rest of us,  as she knew our pack was worth fighting for.  I was henceforth and forevermore, an unequivocal Rosie believer.

The older she got, the more consistently a “good girl” she became. After Lady’s passing last summer, she began a sort of renaissance with me. She would wait at the top of the stairs for me to come up, like Lady had previously done. She seemed to know that I needed that. And I appreciated her generosity in sharing oxytocin with me.

It took me a few years to find a zen place with Rosie…but I ultimately did, after seeing how beautifully she responded to Mike. And just recently I had settled into the realization that she seemed to finally be enjoying her place as the Queen Bee of our pack…and then all too shockingly soon, last Monday came along.

Rosie passing feels like the end of an era for us. For 5 years we had three dogs.Scoober, Rosie, Lady For another 6 years, we had Lady & Rosie. And within a year they both passed.

I had hoped Rosie might make 15-16 years, but it wasn’t to be. She did her best. Mike and I will miss her terribly. We didn’t see this coming and feel a little bit cheated.

Such is life. None of us know how much time any of us have. So we must make the most out of every day.

Now, we must focus on the great memories to get through the sadness.

We’ll always cherish our memories of Rosie. I won’t ever forget how great it continually made me feel to see her and Mike sharing the same kind of bond that Lady & I had shared. I felt like Rosie gave me a little credit for bringing her her Uncle Mike. I also felt like Rosie and I shared a sense that we knew better than anyone (or anything), just how great a person Uncle Mike is, and all of us who know him, know that that’s a consensus, slam-dunk of the truth!

Rosie loved her Uncle Jay, for a lot of years, seemingly because he brought her her Uncle Mike. But for the last several months, Rosie was pretty happy with both of us. She was truly relishing her role as the lead canine, in a high-functioning pack.

When we’d come home from recent trips, she would whine & groan and wiggle/writhe her whole body in excitement to see us, for ten minutes straight. Exhibiting just genuine delight to be reunited with her pack. Her enthusiasm begat our own.

Those are a few of the unforgettable memories of a sweet, loving dog. She will be sorely missed.

To those who knew and loved Rosie, we say thank you. And a special thanks to all who kept her for us.  You know who you are (Shaun, Steve and K, Amanda, Life, etc). She truly loved staying home more than traveling. We appreciate all of you who would come so she could stay in her comfort zone and routine. And we know she appreciated it.

Rosie loved her home and pack. The remaining members will do our best to honor her good memory.IMG_2781 (2)

Rosie has an honored place in our yard, not far from Lady and Scoober.

Sincerely Jay & Mike

Posted in The Best Friends | 1 Comment

The Top 100 Vert Seasons – 2016

Once again, I present the Top 100 Vert Seasons list.

After 13 seasons of the Big Mountain Vert era, we have finally seen just how much can be skied in one season, thanks to Nebraskan Ken Jones.

Shattering the ceiling and rewriting the record book at the same time, Ken summited the Vertical Everest this past season.  Ken skied an astronomical 8,058,144 vertical feet, plugging himself on to this list right at the top.

Ken skied past Tony Cooper’s previous record (5,612,744′), set in 2013, on March 6th. Over the last 34 days of the season, Ken skied an additional, stratospheric 2.4 million vertical feet.

His new record will undoubtedly occupy the top spot on this list for a long time to come.

At the same time, the minimum ante to get on to this list at the bottom, just went up about 58,000 feet.  It’s now approaching 2.5 million to get into this club.  After next season, it should be at least that.

A year ago, the Top 11 finishers of 2015 all made this list.  This season, by contrast, only the Top 7 made the list.   The hungry, heavy hitters keep pushing the upper portions of this list.

Anyone can do this….given the will, the opportunity, and a little luck.   But, now more the ever, if you want to break in here….you will have to set about doing it…and earn it.  No one casually skis 2.5 million vertical feet.

Are you up for it? If so, pretend we’re Missourians and show us.

Before giving you the list to peruse for yourself, again I offer some interesting facts.

33 people now own the Top 100 seasons.  Sandie Carpenter and Patrick Pinsent dropped off the list, while Ken Jones took the top spot.

13 dedicated skiers appear 3 or more times.  These people authored most of the rich, colorful history that defines the Big Mountain vert program.  By name (with number of times accomplished following in parenthesis), they are:  Fred Frost (13), Russ Carpenter and yours truly (9 each),  John Gibson (8), Rick Sawyer (6), Tony Cooper (5), Chris Chapman, Steve Calger & K Yobst (4 each), Albin Kwolek, Steve Cook, Pat King and Mark (aka John) Sanman (3 each).  Welcome Albin and Mark to the 3(+)-timer group.

6 skiers appear twice.  They are:  R.J. Brewer, Sue Armstrong, Giles Hunt, Jerry Hagen, Steve Sliper and John Wachsmuth.

And 14 people own one place in the Top 100.  They are:  Ken Jones, Travis Gray, David Thiel, Paul Badgley, Jim Bailey, Jeanne Reichstadt, David Keith, Rex Rupp, Mark Panicek, Paul Descoteau, Tom McCrea, Eric Walberg, Roger Elliot and Jim Robertson.  Some of these folks (Paul Badgley, Paul Descoteau, Mark Panicek) had previous seasons in the Top 100 that were pushed off the bottom of the list this year.  Such is the nature of records.

But enough analysis already.  See the list for yourself.Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg1Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg2Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg3Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg4Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg5Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg6Top 100 Vert Seasons - 2016 pg7

Once again, I invite you to take your shot at earning a place on this list.  Come and get it~!. The mountain regulars can be a welcoming crowd, while also a little bit like a middle school population.   They will discuss your ski skills, your ski habits, your ski attire, etc. They will see and notice whether you are pushing or not.  And if you are skiing your way onto this list, you will be noticed.  For better or for worse.

And once again, I solicit constructive inputs to correct or complete the record.  As always, just holler. JDPF

**-I remain unaffiliated with Whitefish Mountain Resort, while arguably continuing to be one of their most loyal and enthusiastic patrons.  It is a Big Mountain that we ski upon. And it is big enough for all of us and then some.   Come and ski with us~!**




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The Vert Top 10 of 2016

The 2015-16 season will go down in the books as the most amazing ever recorded on our beloved Big Mountain near Whitefish~! So many great stories, personal bests, and historic vert accomplishments occurred.  We’ll see if I can do justice to recounting a few of them.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ken Jones, the henceforth and forever more, King of Big Mountain Vert~!  Nobody could’ve foreseen that a Nebraskan would transplant to Whitefish and show us all how it is done.  But, that is exactly what happened.

Ken skied an amazing, 8,058,144 vertical feet, crushing Tony Cooper’s record (of 5,612,746′) from the 2013 season by nearly 2.5 million vertical feet.  To put that in perspective, the amount Ken beat the old record by, was enough to be better than 8th place on this years Top 10 list. Three Top 10 finishers spent their whole season skiing to a total less than his margin of victory over the previous record.  Truly unbelievable~!

To set the new record, Ken skied 122 days of the 128 day season.  Of those 122 days, he skied bell to bell, including night skiing, every day since New Years, minus one day to watch football and one rainy day, when his gear soaked through early in the day. He used the rest of the rainy day developing a gear strategy that prevented that from ever happening again.

Ken’s quest for the Big Mountain record was as impressive for the rest of us to witness as it was for him to do. Ken skied with an effortlessness and grace while making 66,000 feet per day look easy. Vert veterans know that it is anything but easy, especially considering the 70 days with new snow that he powered through.  To add even further perspective to Ken’s record season, he skied more this year than Fred Frost and I put together.   It wasn’t like Fred and I took the year off.  I skied 122 days, averaging over 34,000’/day. Fred skied over 110 days or so, and averaged over 34,000’/day too.  It was mindboggling how much Ken got done on a daily basis!

I do believe it is safe to say, Ken’s record will never be broken, unless some quantum leap in lift technology allows for us to get up the mountain exponentially quicker. Some day perhaps, but not likely any time soon.

Polite and respectful, Ken made fans of the resort’s staff and competitors alike. He was a terrific example for all of us. Not once did I see him call attention to himself with annoying, aggressive skiing.  Sure, he was aggressive, but just not while around other skiers.  Many obnoxious Big Mountain skiers and snowboarders could learn a valuable lesson in respect for others from Ken’s example.Ken Jones

All of us tip our caps to Ken Jones’ ski accomplishments.  You aren’t in Nebraska anymore. You’re a Whitefish legend now! Congratulations~! Enjoy it~!

Joining Ken in this years Top 10 was a cast of the usual suspects and some surprise newcomers too.

Yours truly finished second, with my best year yet, in a year that I didn’t win, skiing 4.1 million vertical feet, collecting my 9th consecutive Top 3 finish.

This year’s comeback skier of the year had to be Albin Kwolek~!  Al came back from last year’s broken leg to ski over 4 Million vertical feet and finish with his first Top 3/podium result. Nice job Al~!  Al’s final week of the season was an impressive display in its own right.   He skied around 300,000 vertical feet through the spring slop conditions to get to the 4 million mark.  Our hats are off to your accomplishments too~!

Coming in 4th, was Sue Armstrong, who crushed K Yobst’s Ladies Vert Record from last year (3.16 million feet).  Sue’s 3.9 Million vertical feet skied would have undoubtedly been over 4 million, had she not spent some time skiing down in Utah this season too.  Well done Sue~!

Perennial powerhouse, Fred Frost skied over 3.75 million feet in his 13th consecutive Top 10 finish, this year placing 5th.  Fred remains the standard for durability, commitment and long-term vert accomplishments.  He’s skied over 50 million vertical feet over the last 13 years.  No one else has even skied 40 million.

Earning his first Top 10 and finishing 6th, with over 2.7 million feet skied was former Vermont ski patroller, Paul Descoteau.  Welcome to the Top 10 club Paul!

In 7th place and repeating in the Top 10  for the third consecutive season was Mark (formerly listed as John) Sanman, skiing a personal best 2,582,693′. Nicely done.

Rejoining the Top 10 this season for the second time, David “Curly’ Keith, finished 8th, with 2.37 million feet.  Welcome back to the Top 10 Curly.

For the first time ever, a sub-adult joined the ranks of the overall Top 10.  Simon Roston (a Whitefish middle-schooler, in his 2nd year skiing) defied the odds and the demands of going to school full-time and crushed his home-schooled peers, finishing 9th overall. Simon was often seen on weekends and at night, skiing with Ken Jones. Congratulations Simon~!

Rounding out the Top 10 was Jeanne Reichstadt, earning her 4th overall Top 10 finish. Welcome back Jeanne!

Congratulations to this year’s Top 10~!Top 10 - 2016

Who among you will take it upon yourself to join these ranks next season?

As always, I welcome constructive inputs to correct/complete the record. Just holler. JDPF

**The Vert Era at Whitefish Mountain (formerly the Big Mountain) Resort just finished it’s 13th season of empirically measured skiing.  Each skier’s season pass gets electronically scanned prior to each chairlift ride, thus tallying, in effect, how much we ski.  Each lift services a known quantity of vertical feet serviced and skied.  Tracking the vert program combines three passions of mine–skiing, niche history, and conventional math.  It seems only natural that I archive the records~!**  For whatever that is worth.  That is all.




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The Ladies Top 10 of 2016

Congratulations to the ladies of the Big Mountain~! They crushed it again in 2015-16.

At the top of the list and worthy of huge congratulations is Sue Armstrong, for setting the new all-time Ladies record! Sue skied a personal best of over 3.9 million vertical feet, landing her in the overall Top 10 for the second consecutive season.  She got all of that done in 115 days of skiing.  Exceptionally well done!

Congratulations also to Jeanne Reichstadt, a virtual lock in the Ladies Top 10 for a decade, who skied a smidge under 2.3 million feet, while returning again to the resort’s overall Top 10 for the 4th time.

And cheers to K Yobst for claiming her fifth consecutive Ladies Top 10, skiing a respectable 2 Million plus vertical feet.

Joanne Gill, Sylvia Spangler, Sherry Foti, and Luanne Metcalf all repeated in the Ladies Top 10 again for the second season in a row.  Nice job of getting a streak going.  Now a three’peat is in order for 2016-17.

And a hearty welcome to Lia Wolfe, Deb Forthofer and Ruthe Heimel, all joining the Ladies Top 10 this season.

Give it up for the ladies of the Big Mountain~!

Ladies Top 10 - 2016

As always, I welcome constructive inputs to correct/complete the record.


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