During our 11-minute Sunday afternoon interview, Greg Hill cranks out 450 vertical feet towards his goal of skiing 100 vertical kilometres in one month – all self-propelled.
And the uncanny part of the interview is he’s not even breathing heavily – if he didn’t tell me he was on his third ascent of the Macpherson Fingers for the day, I’d have guessed he was out walking down to La Baguette for a latte and chatting on his hands-free headphone.
The Revelstoke resident and mountain guide is sponsored by big name mountain manufacturers like Salomon and Arc’teryx, and has embarked on the social media-promoted journey into Revelstoke-area mountains.
Why 100 kilometres in a month?
“I’ve got my daily and I know my yearly. It’s fun to just see what I can do when I focus singularly on something,” Hill said. “It’s just very simple. It’s mountains and ski touring.”
For the next month he’ll tour the Revelstoke-area mountains, aiming for about 30 peaks in his attempt.
Mostly, it’ll be the Selkirks and Monashees, and he won’t be repeating the same mountain twice during the month.
Hill’s attempt will put the spotlight on the Revelstoke area, and he hopes it’ll make people realize just how blessed the region is with many, many skiable summits to be had. He says in some famous backcountry regions in the States, you’d start to run out of new summits before the month was up. Hill’s been in Revelstoke for 14 years, and there are still areas he hasn’t explored.
So far, the opening weekend was a warm-up. He took his family to the peak of Mount Mackenzie, a first summit for his children (aged 7 and 9). He pounded out some laps in Kokanee Bowl, then headed to Mount Macpherson on Sunday. He’ll venture further from his home base in the coming days.
Hill feels his record-setting two-million vertical feet in a year in 2010 is a more difficult accomplishment, but skiing 100 vertical kilometres in a month will take all he’s got.
The marketing wings of his sponsors have spread the word about his challenge far and wide, including media releases in my inbox. A couple days into his journey, Hill was ready to talk about it. “I hate talking about things before I’ve done them,” Hill said. “The reality is I am a professional athlete.” Nowadays, that means maintaining a social media presence, which he’ll be doing on standard SM platforms and through a blog.
The March Madness attempt is a convenient way to reward his sponsors; it’s a packageable achievement that dovetails with social media promotion (all the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook links are easily found on the Arc’teryx website, and there are prizes to be won).
Several locals will be helping out on his attempt. Photographer Bruno Long is helping with images, and Aaron Chance, Mark Hartley and Andrew McNab will help with touring. And of course, family. In addition to family support, Hill estimates he’ll consume about 7,000–8,000 calories a day, including lots of Clif bars, gels, candies, sandwiches, pizza and avocados, in addition to regular family meals.
Before we hang up, Greg thanks me for keeping him company for a while. “It’s almost like a mouse in a treadmill,” he jokes of the time spent hammering out the miles solo. I’ve helped him while away part of his solo, Sunday afternoon mission.
I wish him luck and remind him to stay safe and sane.
“Safe for sure; sane, that’s perspective,” he jokes. “Normal to a crazy person seems insane.”