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Hills to Climb

SuuntoSki — 16 April 2015

Make no mistake, Greg Hill is fit. Super-human fit. As one of the world’s leading ski mountaineers, he has pioneered first descents, summited over 190 mountains and climbed and skied millions of meters.

For Greg, winter isn’t complete without pushing himself. Which is why he spent March 2014 tackling 100,000 m of vertical in deep in his native Canada’s backcountry Why? “I've always been curious about my human potential and to see what I can do,” says Greg.

The March Madness campaign saw him skiing for up to 10 hours a day to cover between 3,000m to 4,000m of vertical. And if that wasn’t tricky enough, he never skied the same place twice and summited 11 mountains on the way. “It was as hard as anything I've done, waking up every morning and getting out there,” says Greg, but the long climbs were rewarded with stunning powder runs: “It was the best human-powered powder month ever! It was ridiculous. This was 97% great skiing!”

Believe it or not, that’s not Revelstoke-based Greg’s biggest vertical achievement. Back in 2010 he dedicated a year of his life to climbing and skiing two million feet (609,600 m). The challenge took him to four different countries and saw him climb 114 km and ski 1,039 days. 77 of those days saw him tackle over 3,000 meters of vertical, and his toughest day involved a 7,000m climb and ski. After reaching his target, Greg celebrated the way he knows best; by putting his skins back on and doing one more lap. “My legs felt light, my pace free and the turns great of course,” blogged Greg afterwards.

He’s clocked in a few records over the years as well. He was the first North American to climb and ski 40,000 ft (12,200m) in 24 hours, set the Spearhead traverse record in an impressive four hours one minute and was once climbed and skied Mont Blanc in a day. No wonder he was labeled one of the Top 25 fittest men in the world by Men’s Fitness in 2011.

What led Greg to these super-human feats? Trees! One million of them. His former summer job was planting spruce and pine trees. As he was paid per tree, he pushed himself to plant around 1,500 a day and discovered a talent for logging hours in the backcountry. “It taught me a lot about how to persevere,” says Greg.