SNOWBASIN -- By the time Jeff Lewis and James Sweeney took their lunch break Tuesday, they had already been down the mountain about 15 times.
After a much-needed refueling, they were planning go back out and do it all over again.
Lewis, of Farmington, and Sweeney, of Bountiful, were two of the more than 150 people who showed up at Snowbasin Resort on Tuesday for the Bob Aamodt Vertical Challenge, an annual event created by Farmington businessman Bob Aamodt to benefit area Boy Scouts.
Whereas most ski competitions are timed or judged, participants in the Vertical Challenge try to ski the most vertical feet. They are grouped into teams of four and must ride all of the lifts on the mountain, covering just about every named run in the process.
There is technically a first-place finisher, but don't call it a race.
"It's not really considered a race," said Andrea Abbott, a co-worker of Aamodt's who helps organize the event. "It's mainly just a lot of fun. It's a good excuse to spend a day on the slopes with friends and co-workers and support a good cause."
Aamodt came up with the idea several years ago as a way to combine his passion for skiing with his love of Scouting, Abbott said.
A blowing snowstorm didn't prevent Tuesday's challenge from being the most successful in the event's five-year history. While a final amount-raised number wasn't available Tuesday, Abbott said it was the first time more than 150 people registered.
"It just keeps getting progressively bigger each time," she said.
In four previous events combined, the Vertical Challenge has raised more than $30,000 for the Trapper Trails Council, the local chapter of Boy Scouts of America that covers Northern Utah, Southern Idaho and Western Wyoming.
Jeremy Bell, camping director for the council, said the proceeds are used to fund Scoutreach, a program that pays for disadvantaged and low-income kids to participate in after-school programs and summer camps.
Trapper Trails has other fundraising events, such as summer golf tournaments, but the Vertical Challenge is unique because it's the only winter fundraiser for the council, Bell said. As one of the nation's largest Scouting organizations in terms of both membership and geographic reach, he said it can use every extra dollar it can get.
"Without events like these, we couldn't send kids to camp or provide materials and equipment for their lessons and merit badge activities," he said. "These are kids who might not otherwise have these opportunities through their families or communities."
In a new twist on the Vertical Challenge, participants wore armbands containing GPS trackers that allowed monitors to see where all teams were on the mountain at any given moment, and to track how many vertical feet each team covered. The technology comes from Flaik, a Colorado-based company that provides the service at competitions and ski schools.
Company founder Steve Kenny said that in addition to providing raw data, the technology also enhances safety on the mountain.
"It's helpful if someone gets injured or lost," Kenny said. "With this, you instantly know their exact location."
The relaxed nature of the Vertical Challenge is evident in the attitude of the skiers and snowboarders and the humorous costumes some wear.
"It's a fun event," said Lewis, who was participating for the first time. "It's pretty creative and it's really laid back."
Last year's winners, a group of fighter pilots from Hill Air Force Base, skied 186,000 vertical feet together.
At the end of the day Tuesday, the winning team from Putnam Investments had covered a combined 325,930 vertical feet. That's the equivalent of more than 27 trips per team member down Snowbasin's full vertical rise.
But, Abbott said, that isn't what really matters -- after all, it's not a race.