Tram Laps: Dave Stergar Clocks in at 26

Written by Dave Stergar on  at

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Last Sunday, Big Sky ripper Dave Stergar banged out 26 Tram laps in a row, clocking 24.9 miles and 39.6k vertical feet at 51.7mph, and torching 829 calories - all off the top of Lone Peak.

Yesterday the sun, snow, and wind all aligned for one of those legendary ski days you talk about for years to come. Yesterday I skied 26 perfect tram laps in a row.

Before you get too excited, 26 isn't the record. The record, I hear, is closer to 30, and it wasn't me. Still, even on a good day skiers don't usually get in more than a handful - uncontrollable factors like weather, fatigue, waiting time, and conditions can all get in the way of double digit numbers, even if you set out with a goal. Before this weekend, my personal best was 20 - it was over 10 years ago, and even then my legs started aching around lap 17 and it took me took me 3 full days to recover.

This time, I didn't set out with an agenda - I even slept in. But luck, timing, and wind were on my side. I met my ski pal Ben at the base of the triple chair, really not knowing what we were getting ourselves into. We knew we were going to ski the peak because conditions had been incredible, so we skied down to the Tram just as it opened at about 10am. As we skied off the top I suggested we spin a quick one as there wasn't a line yet, and there still wasn't when we cruised back down to the Tram Dock. As we were loading the next cabin up to the top we overheard that the Triple chair, the only lift access to the tram, was going to be closing due to wind.

This, folks, is how 26 Tram laps happen.

Knowing that we weren't going to have to wait in line for as long as the wind-hold lasted on the Triple, we signed out for the Big Couloir and hit the Gullies again, lapping them three times before our turn on The Big. Run after run, the Triple stayed closed and the line stayed empty - we walked on each tram car like it was our own personal helicopter to a deserted powder paradise.

But taking advantage of this opportunity did come with some sacrifice - to be able to make it back to the Tram each time, we had to ski shorter laps that didn't require skiing below the closed Triple chair. Every time we skied across the top of Liberty Bowl and Lenin, runs leading away from the base of the Tram, we looked down at the creamy goodness and were tempted to drop in. But we traded one 2,500 + vertical drop off the West and South sides for 20 1,400 vertical drops above the bowl. We had to put off that long incredible run until it was our last, hoping that our legs would hold up that long. It would be like the icing on the cake or the cherry on top of the sunday.

So we continued our quest, first hoping to make it to 15 runs. Our goal of 15 turned to 20, then 25 as we kept lapping the Gullies; third shoulder, first all the way through, back to third, over to Crons. As a day like this unfolds, a skier starts by trying to be first out of the tram cabin. By the end, we wanted to be first into the tram cabin for one of the few precious tram seats in an attempt to save our legs.

After we reached our goal of 25 laps, we had to do one more just to make sure. The cherry on top - that last, long, 26th run - was the most delicious end to a Sunday I've ever had.

- Dave Stergar, Big Sky skier and TWISI guest writer