Ski mountaineer Greg Hill wanted to know how far he could push his body. In March, he got his answer: 435 miles, with 328,615 feet (100 km or 62.1 miles) of vertical ascent -- or more than 10 times the height of Mount Everest.
Lest you assume Hill was in the confines of groomed and patrolled ski resorts, let us clarify: he was so deep in the Canadian wilderness, he rarely skied the same spot twice. That means it wasn't just an exercise in bodily will power, but mental fortitude as he planned each route, with an acute awareness for avalanche danger. He lost almost 11 pounds and summited 10 peaks.
“It was a big mission,” says the 38 year old, recovering at his home in Revelstoke, British Columbia. “It was as hard as anything I've done. I was willing myself to keep hiking and keep doing it, but I always knew I had that reward of great skiing coming.”
Every day, Hill would tour for up to 10 hours, climbing and skiing between 10,000-13,000 feet. “There were many, many times during the day that I was mad at myself for doing this," he said.
While one day's warm temps left his skins so laden with snow they weighed about 44 pounds, most of the time the descents more than compensated for the pain – and there were a lot of them.
“It was the best human-powered powder month ever! It was ridiculous," he said. "This was 97 percent great skiing.”
In total, Greg skied 117 different lines. “A lot of those were fantastic couloirs and faces. It was pretty amazing. I love the challenge of the up but the reward of the down is why I do it.”
But the epic powder conditions also brought with it a high avalanche risk – and one very close call for Greg, in which he triggered a category 3 slide that took out the slope he'd just hiked up.
“We had slides that were the biggest in 30 years," Hill said. "Massive things were coming down. It was mostly scary all the time. You had to use every trick in the book to stay safe, as it was so sketchy.”
There is something else however that Greg has been afraid of lately – stairs. “My body managed to hang on but going up steps is tiring,” he says. Having hiked to the equivalent of outer space and back, it's forgivable for Greg to feel a little tired in the legs. But if one thing's for certain, he'll be back for more.
You can check out Greg's routes, daily climbs, distances and other stats on Suunto.com.