Meet the man who skied two million vertical feet in a year, without ever using a lift.
Greg Hill is an animal. He doesn’t look like it. The thin mild-mannered Canadian, seems like a normal guy. But this is a man who once hiked and skied 51,000 vertical feet—almost two Everests from sea level—in a single day. Not content with that accomplishment, lung machine decided to log two million vertical feet of skiing without ever using a lift last year. To rack up two million vertical at Vail riding the lifts you would have to ski the resort top to bottom 580 times. No problem for Hill who calculated that he would need to average about a vertical mile of skinning every day and set off, starting in his backyard in Revelstoke, British Columbia, and traveling wherever there was snow, spending four months exploring South America, summiting dozens of peaks (including 16,644-foot Mount Steele) and notching several first descents along the way. His sponsors Backcountry.com, Dynafit, Polartec and Arc’teryx have helped him along the way and somehow he still has time to be a dad of a 5- and 4-year-old. He also documented the year on a helmet cam (watch the footage at greghill.ca). We met the man skiing Snowbird last January (he skipped the Tram ride of course) and caught up with him when he was a mere 69,000 feet from setting his record.
Are you worried about a let down when it’s over?
It will feel weird the first few days when I realize I don’t have to hammer but I think it will be a well earned rest. I’m quite passionate about it so it’s not like I’m going to just stop.
What was the initial impetus or you to attempt two million verts in a year?
I spent 10 years of dreaming what I could do in a full year if I simply put my head down and focused on a particular goal. Two million seemed like a realistic but impressive goal that would require a lot of hard work and dedication. That’s definitely what it’s turned out to be. One of the things I’m trying to prove is that it’s really an easy sport. I mean if I can do two million verts in a year, the someone can go out and do four or five thousand in a day. Basically. It’s just walking.
Will this be a Guinness record?
Guinness wants you to do things that I just can’t possibly do. I can’t get a witness when I go out for four hours at five in the morning who can then keep up with me. Or have a witness meet me at the top of a peak. I have just been using a Suunto altimeter to record my progress.
What have been the most difficult points along the way?
We went to the Saint Elias in Alaska in June and the high elevation long distances, and weather made my lead on my goal disappear and I realized it probably wasn’t the best plan. Sitting in a tent for four days and falling behind was tough the experience was amazing but it wasn’t the best place to be for this goal.
What have been some high points along the way?
I have been up 71 summits of which 30 or 50 were new summits so that has been fantastic exploration and adventure. That’s what I’m constantly looking for. To spend four months in South America was amazing, just to go see what’s down on the other side of the world. The volcanoes are amazing and Sierra Velluda in Chile had been a peak I was staring at when I started my trip and finally got to ski at the end. It was just this amazing ascent and descent.