Resolutions fly thick and fast in January. In the early days of 2010, ski mountaineer Greg Hill embarked on a mission to climb and ski two million vertical feet in one calendar year. It was a daunting goal, one that took the full 365 days to achieve. Here are the milestones he reached along the way. Let them serve as inspiration for following through on your 2012 resolutions.
1999 The year Hill started planning his two million foot project. “I dreamt about it because the year 2000 was coming up and the numbers 2,000 and 2,000,000 kind of worked together. But it took me 10 years to pull it all together.”
50,000 The most vertical feet Hill has ever climbed and skied in a single 24-hour span, at a race during his training years. How did he feel after crossing the finish line? “I was on the cusp of being able to vocalize anything and stand up and be a normal human. It was definitely my physical limit.”
5,550 Average vertical Hill needed to clock daily in 2010 to reach his goal.
23,070 The most vertical feet Hill skied in a day in 2010. It was in May, in his backyard in BC. “I’d been stalled out in the 600,000s for far too long,” he says. “I wanted to do at least 40,000 over four days to get over 700,000 and get out of my lull. There’s a cabin in the backcountry there, and I went out and spent three days and two nights by myself. I did 11,000 feet, and then 23,000 feet, and then 11,000 feet, and walked out. I sessioned this one mountain like it’s never been sessioned by one person.”
150 The smallest vertical in a day on Hill’s log. “It was down in Argentina,” he says. “Nothing worked out that day.”
16,640 The elevation of Mount Steele in the Saint Elias range on the Canadian-Alaskan border. On May 1, Hill stood on Mount Steele’s summit, the highest peak he climbed in 2010. “I’d say that the highest point was probably the lowest point, too. In my naively optimistic world, I assumed I’d be able to ski absolutely everything around our base camp and still be charging out there and getting vertical. But it was such heavily glaciated terrain that there were no real face options to go skiing solo. I was starting to fall behind for the first time in the mission.”
11 Based on his calculations, this is how many days Hill was behind schedule midway through. “The halfway point was July 2 at noon. By then I had flown down to Chile and I was trying to figure it all out down there.”
77 Days that Hill dubbed “suffer” days, meaning he reached over 10,000 feet of altitude gain.
238,000 Hill’s total for December. “I’m a procrastinator by nature, so the final push was big.”
-28 In degree Celsius, the coldest temperature Hill encountered. It was the thick of winter near his home in Revelstoke, Canada.
2 Hill has two children, and he was away from them and his wife for two five-week periods during the year. He was away from home on his daughter’s first day of kindergarten. “There’s obviously sacrifices for everything,” he says.
5:30 The average wake-up time for Hill when he was at home and the skiing was on. A 4 a.m. start wasn’t unusual. “If I can get up at 4 a.m. and be skiing by 5, I can ski hard for five hours and be back by 10 to be a dad,” he says. “I loved that, those days when I was on the summit for sunrise and I’d ski home, and they were having breakfast and I’d just move into the day.”
71 Individual peaks Hill summitted during the quest.
9 First descents Hill counted over the year.
266 Number of days Hill skied in 2010.
2,000,000 “When I finally watched the silly little number tick over [on my watch] it was quite the moment. I had so much effort invested in it—10 years of dreaming about it, and then one year of going as hard as I possibly could. To finally not have to worry about that goal and know that I’ve accomplished it was pretty amazing.” —Olivia Dwyer | Photos by Tommy Chandler/Backcountry.com