Up the mountain he goes, down the mountain he goes. Repeat, endlessly.

Fred Frost, 74, is a marvel of skiing stamina, regularly racking up more than 4 million vertical feet per season at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Fred Frost, 74, skis 35,000 – 40,000 vertical daily.

Frost is among the many hard-charging senior skiers at the Montana resort who take advantage of a free-ticket policy for anyone older than 70.

“What else are you going to do in the winter?” says Frost, who skis six days a week during the season, taking only Saturdays off. “I moved here to ski, so I’m going to ski.”

Frost is a retired high school math teacher from Pateros, Wash., who came to Whitefish to enjoy the outdoors.
On a single-degree day in January, Frost skis run after run on Whitefish Mountain’s Chair 1, with its 2,084 feet of vertical. In a typical day, he accumulates between 35,000 and 40,000 vertical feet of skiing, stopping only to do what he calls a “D and R.”

“What’s that?” he’s asked.

“A drain and refill,” he says with a little smile. No food, just a visit to the bathroom and drinking fountain.

To understand why Frost pays so much attention to how much vertical he gets, you need to delve into Whitefish Mountain’s annual Vertical Tracker competition. Since the 2004-05 season, the resort has ranked passholders’ vertical — based on its electronic ticket scanners — and posted the results online. That led to a heated competition to rack up the most vertical in all age groups.

Frost, in the “Super Senior” category, has won the overall title several times and regularly places in the top three. Last year’s overall winner, Ken Jones, 52, is in awe of what Frost accomplishes year after year.

“When I moved here, everyone was telling me about Fred. He was the legend,” Jones says. “He’s so inspirational when you think of his age and how he keeps going.”

Jeanne Reichstadt, 63, skis with Frost regularly and is “amazed by his stamina. He never even stops to eat.”

Reichstadt also bicycles with Frost in the summer and mountaineers with her husband in nearby Glacier National Park to stay in shape.

“It is really amazing how fit many older people are here,” says Reichstadt, who moved to Whitefish 17 years ago from Nebraska. “They want to stay healthy so they can keep going.”

Pam Shaw, 60, is a Kiwi who skis hard at Whitefish

At age 60, Pam Shaw is another older skier who hits it hard at Whitefish Mountain. Shaw, a New Zealander who is spending the winter in Whitefish skiing and working as a nurse, takes a visitor on some of her favorite runs — all rated advanced. She shreds with abandon, laughing at the fun of it all.

And then there’s the over-70 threesome of Ken Meckel, Bob Donahue and Gary Simonsic, who also like to ski the steeps. They don’t care about the vertical competition —  skiing hard is their thing.

And it helps that their skiing is free.

“So far, we haven’t figured out how we can get the resort to pay us,” Meckel jokes.


  1. art roerink says:

    great job, but where’s your helmet??

  2. Hey Pam, How about working as a nurse at a children’s summer camp in NH this summer? Time to hike in the White Mountains and Presidential’s,
    swim in beautiful lakes, visit New England sites as well as Montreal and
    Quebec City. My favorite Kiwi couple were from MataMata , came back
    for many summers from MataMata , and didn’t even start at camp until they were in their late 50’s.

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