Greg Hill 2 Mill
Cue that 80’s glam-rock anthem “The Final Countdown” – Arc’teryx sponsored climber Greg Hill is in the final three weeks of his quest to ski two million vertical feet in a single calendar year. Greg’s quest has taken him to explore every bowl, chute, and glade in his Selkirk/Columbia mountain backyard, and a productive session in Las Lenas and Bariloche, Argentina, as well.
Along the way, he tested several new Arc’teryx products (including the award-winning Alpha SV glove) and introduced his new Dynafit Stoke signature ski as well – a ‘rider designed’ backcountry ski.
Greg’s unique quest has resulted in some cool media coverage along the way, including feature stories in Canada’s Globe & Mail newspaper and in the current issue of Outside magazine, too. Lest you think that Greg leisurely relaxes during the off-season, nothing could be farther from the truth. Hel toils away in the mountains of BC in that time-honoured ski bum “alternate” profession - tree planter. He’s planted over a million trees, but that’s a topic for another day.
ARC: Jeez, 1 million feet seemed exhausting enough. Has anyone even come close to competing with you? Has anyone repeated your feat of skiing a million vertical feet?
GH: It seems that there are a few people who say that they have done a million in a season but there is no way anyone has done two million feet of uphill skiing.
ARC: Where did the idea to ski two million feet come from – are you like Bob Dylan, on some kind of “Never Ending Tour? Did you just want to put this so far out of reach that no one would ever try to compete against it?
GH: I wanted to try and do something that required more from me than anything ever before; something that required immense dedication and commitment. 2 million seemed tangible, the math makes sense, 5480 ft a day every day all year, and voila 2 million. 5480 is fairly easy for me to do so the question became could I average that every day? It seemed like I might be able to do it.
ARC: OK, so it’s December 21, and you’ve got just ten days to ski almost 100,000 vertical feet; I would guess that you are not attending many Christmas parties?
GH: I have to average about 8000 vertical feet per day. Life is about balance, friends and family, so while my goal is very important, so is enjoying the holidays. I just won't be drinking much, more enjoying the company.
ARC: Tell us about your lightweight setup – sounds from your blog like you switched skis recently?
GH: Right now I am in my Ninja setup, or Ninja powder setup, my signature Dynafit Stoke ski, a wide powder ski in a shorter length 173 and the Dynafit TLT 5's which make walking a breeze and charging fun.
ARC: How are the short days affecting the productivity of your ski days right now?
GH: In 8 hours I can have a very productive day but if for whatever reason I was late in getting out, or need that extra hour I have a super-duper headlamp/ highbeam that I can shred with.
ARC: During your recent trip to Chatter Creek Lodge for an Arc’teryx photo shoot, there were some Canadian Army cadets with Night Vision goggles. Were you able to get a pair to complete the quest?
GH: I wish I had acted on that but no I have this Petzl headlamp that will be perfect, should I need to push the daylight hours.
ARC: What’s the biggest day that you did on this quest in 2010?
ARC: Now, we all love to ski, but there must be enormous mental preparation to get through this - how do you maintain your focus to get up and do it each day?
GH: I have spent years honing my motivation and learning how to dig deeper when I need to. This is also a personal goal, not something I am doing for anyone else, so I want this and wanting it as much as I do makes it somewhat easier to get up and go. My motivation is not always amazing, but that is part of the challenge, forcing myself to get out there.
ARC: Looking back on the year, were there periods where you might have punched up the vertical a bit, or did you always think it might get challenging towards the end?
GH: Perhaps I could have punched it harder in the early part of the year, but pacing is so important with a year long goal that I did not want to over exert myself. I wanted to ensure that I had energy and motivation the whole year long. And I don't mind sprinting now, in a nay race I have ever competed in I have always needed to sprint at the end.
ARC: What’s been the most functional piece of clothing you’ve used – anything that has exceeded your expectations?
GH: I have been loving the new Alpha SV glove, the phase for moisture and heat management and the new FL series (an ultra-light Gore-Tex® shell that will be released in 2011). The FL is amazing it allows for full weather protection while being a super light and breathable jacket.
ARC:Assuming that all goes well and you reach your goal, what will you be doing on New Year’s Day, 2011?
GH: Our tradition is to go to Halcyon Hot Springs, and I cannot wait to lie back and know that I have pushed myself as I hard as I can for an entire year, and pursued a dream of mine. Hopefully I accomplish this dream, but more importantly I attempted it.