Greg Hill Reaches Two-Million Foot Goal
For Immediate Release | January 4, 2011
With just two days left in 2010, Revelstoke-based ski mountaineer Greg Hill has completed his quest to climb and ski 2,000,000 vertical feet (609,600 metres) in a calendar year. Hill’s feat was the skiing equivalent of climbing Mount Everest every five days for an entire year. Or ascending the stairs of Toronto’s CN Tower four times per day, every day, for 365 consecutive days. It’s exhausting to even think about.
Over the course of his skiing career, Hill has been a vertical-climbing/ ski machine, racking up 1,000,000 vertical feet in 2004/2005 and an additional 990,000 in 2006/2007. "Drawing on my previous experience, I was able to hone my training schedule in order to plan a 2,000,000 vertical foot year."
Skiing up mountain slopes in the backcountry requires applying adhesive climbing skins to the base of your skis; the skins have a textured ‘nap’ that allows the skier to walk uphill without sliding backwards. Climbing uphill is only part of the effort – for most of his runs, Hill had to ‘break trail’ – which means plowing through fresh powder that is often a foot deep. The resistance of the snow adds greatly to the challenge of carrying momentum up hill.
Hill’s quest has made him intimately familiar with the supremely rugged Selkirk Mountains in and around his Columbia Valley home, but also took him on a four-month trek to South America in order to log enough vertical to reach his goal, since there isn’t much year-round skiing in North America.
Getting to the finish line was not easy. With snow late in arriving in Revelstoke after Hill returned from Argentina, Hill had his work cut out for him in order to finish the quest, needing to average almost 8,000 vertical feet (2,500 metres) per day through the month of December, when daylight hours are short.
"Those final days featured some serious trail breaking, but also really great powder skiing," Hill says. "I carried two high-power Petzl Ultra headlamps which enabled me to push on and do one or two more laps at the very end of the day. My touring buddies and I really enjoyed skiing deep powder with the headlamp; it really adds another dimension to backcountry skiing," Hill says.
Along the way, he tested several new Arc’teryx products including the award-winning Alpha SV glove, and a super lightweight and breathable Gore-Tex jacket. "Over the past year, I skied in a huge variety of conditions. Thanks to the technical properties of the Arc’teryx clothing I used, weather was never a limiting factor."
On December 30, Hill broke the two-mill mark in cold, clear, powdery conditions, accompanied by friends and family on the mountain slopes of nearby Glacier National Park. He chugged a mouthful of champagne after his altimeter watch turned over 2,000,000 vertical feet, then descended into a powdery cloud. Next day, Hill’s accomplishments were celebrated with a standing ovation over 500 family and friends at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, and spent Hill spent New Year’s Day with his wife and kids at Halcyon Hot Springs resort.
Greg’s unique quest has been covered by the Globe & Mail newspaper, as well as Outside and Powder magazine. Hill says, "So often the only stories we hear about backcountry skiing in the mainstream media are negative ones that deal with avalanches, rescues, and deaths. I think that by skiing two million vertical feet – much of it solo – I can show that with the proper knowledge and equipment, people can safely enjoy the mountains in the winter. I’m gratified that people from all over the world have posted comments on my blog and that even non-skiers are inspired by my goal setting and achievement."
To find out more about Greg's adventures, visit his website greghill.ca