A road trip to remember: Utah man makes cross-country trip with pitstop in Colorado to attempt to reach 100,000 vertical feet of skiing

William Reillo smiles on the chairlift while skiing at Beaver Creek Resort on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
William Reillo/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct information regarding the number of vertical feet William Reillo skied in one day since inconsistencies were identified in the evidence provided to prove he had surpassed the 100,000-foot threshold.

Many people may try to ski or ride 100,000 vertical feet in a single day, but New York native, and current Utah resident, William Reillo took on the challenge in January. 

Unlike most skiing stories, the beginning of Reillo’s feat began in a car, amongst the streets and lights of New York City, instead of on the pristine slopes of a ski resort. 

“We currently live in Utah, and we moved out from New York City,” Reillo said. “I was driving my girlfriend’s car over in order to just have one more car over in Utah.”

In order to make the 2,000-plus-mile trip more manageable and enjoyable after the holidays, Reillo figured he would stop in Colorado along the way for a few days of skiing.

“It was just me, the ski gear and all of our stuff,” Reillo said. “I drove across the country and I managed to get to Colorado in a little over two days.”

Reillo said that he then stayed with a friend in Denver for a night before heading to the Summit County area for a few days of skiing. 

He went to Breckenridge Ski Resort on Sunday, Jan. 22, where he unknowingly logged thousands of vertical feet without even really trying to chase any sort of mark for vertical feet. 

That night, Reillo said he grew inspired as he saw other people’s stories of surpassing 100,000 vertical feet in a single ski day. The stories had such a big impact that Reillo decided to head further down Interstate 70 in order to go after that sort of standard at Beaver Creek Resort on Tuesday, Jan. 24. 

Reillo says he arrived at Beaver Creek Resort when the lifts started turning at 8:30 a.m. and then stayed on the slopes the majority of the day.

Unlike most who chase after vertical feet, Reillo did not utilize a specific strategy — like taking the lift that gains the most vertical feet, or planning what number he should be at by certain points in the day.

Instead, Reillo said he focused on having fun on the slopes while trying to push himself.

“I was just having fun,” Reillo said. “I was all alone and I just wanted to test myself by doing some double black diamonds for the first time.”

After enjoying his time on the mountain for the majority of the day, Reillo kept pushing toward that limit.

He extended his ski day by an extra hour or so to complete more runs.

Reillo said he never took longer than a 15-minute break to eat or go to the bathroom. 

Though it’s unclear if he made it to 100,000 vertical feet, Reillo then got in his car and drove a little over seven hours to the Salt Lake City airport to pick up his girlfriend.

“I drove seven to eight hours after that,” Reillo said. “I got to Salt Lake around 11 p.m. — that is when my girlfriend landed — and we went to our house after that. It was a long day.”

The trip made for a marathon of a day, but Reillo said it was 100% worth the exhaustion and fatigue the next morning.

With a mountain endurance background, Reillo said he did not really feel challenged by the escapade until the next day. 

“The next day it hit me,” Reillo said. “I guess it was the excitement of being out in Colorado skiing.”

Reillo said he recovered the day after before he strapped on his skis again in order to head back up to ski the mountains in Utah. 

Overall, he says he’s glad he found a way to maximize his time in Colorado. Not only did it make for a memorable road trip, but it also expanded his skiing skills after he logged his first full ski season last year.

“It was pretty exciting,” Reillo said of completing a double black run at Beaver Run. “I was really proud and happy to achieve that. It was one of the steepest parts that I have done and it was super moguly and I didn’t fall. It was just a happy moment for me to share with myself.”

Reillo plans to ski throughout the rest of the season and hopes to transfer the skills he learned from skiing on the East Coast to Western ski resorts

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