It’s not always easy to follow the rules – that’s something any teenager can tell you. But as grow older, wiser, and more mature, we start to realize why rules are in place. They don’t always make life harder, they make it easier – and they definitely make it safer, especially in the mountains. That’s why Canadian ski mountaineer and mountain guide Greg Hill has developed his own rules – and does his best to live by them whenever he’s moving in high alpine terrain.
Watch Greg’s video below to learn the rules and find out why they are important for you too – then scroll down to our interview with Greg to learn more about the life experiences that shaped them.
Greg, let’s start with the obvious: tell use about that avalanche!
May 15th 2014. Deep in the heart of Pakistan, at 5500m, as far from rescue as possible. I only broke my leg, but was very lucky to have lived at all. It was only 30cm high, but it was a few hundred meters across, but the entire feature that I was skiing slid for about 700m vertically.
What did you do wrong?
There was simply nowhere to go – and that was my technical mistake. What I did wrong was skiing a feature with no escape routes or safe spots. I skied like I was able to outrun an avalanche. A small ski cut would have triggered the thing and I would have been on top. But the bigger rule I broke was rule number one – not being afraid enough. I also broke rule number two – the partners I had there weren’t my normal partners. My normal partners would have questioned me more. They didn’t question me enough. Did they learn something from this? I bet they did.
Why did you need to be in that avalanche?
The funny thing is, I had lasted so many years without any issues – I needed that slide to keep my ego in check. There weren’t red flags popping up. We had waited a bunch of days for the snow to settle. The mountains were dormant. But I still broke the rules.
What’s your biggest tip to help you follow the rules?
Keep asking yourself questions. As you’re hiking up. Am i being afraid? Am I well-trained? Do I have the knowledge to back my decisions? Are my partners adding more? Always remember – you don’t know you're making poor decisions, until you experience a consequence.
What can we learn from you next?
This is a lead-in to my terrain tricks video – we’ll discuss concrete, tangible terrain decisions that will help you find ways to wander around the mountains and stay safe.
Stay tuned for more mountain advice from Greg Hill in December!