It's over. Greg Hill did it. Two million vertical feet climbed and skied in 2010, with a day to spare.
Hill passed his dream number late Thursday afternoon outside his hometown of Revelstoke, British Columbia, with a large group of friends and relatives ripping through the backcountry powder next to him. He was scheduled to celebrate Friday with a ceremonial run (or two ...) at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, then a nighttime party at a local bar for his family and crew of friends.
In a phone interview from his home Wednesday night, the eve of his long-awaited triumph, Hill sounded stoic and busy as he rattled off some statistics. He said he ended up skiing about 270 days (his previous high for a winter was 145), and averaged 7,400 feet of ascent and descent on those days. He spent a total of eight months in North America, mostly around Revelstoke, and four months in South America, mostly in Chile. The pursuit cost roughly $70,000, of which $45,000 came from sponsors; he also accepted money from approximately 25 random donors and absorbed a healthy dose of debt.
Hill's largest day was a 23,000-foot, 12-hour monster he turned out on Rogers Pass this past spring. He notched "eight or nine" first descents and skied some of the highest, gnarliest lines in Canada. Perhaps most impressive, he summited 71 mountains.
Hill overcame a significant deficit halfway through the year, hammering out huge days to catch back up to "par," as he called it. The adventure was as raw as it was constant. He was stung by merciless winds for weeks on end, cramponed up avalanche-prone faces in remote alpine zones and skied too many waist-deep powder days to count.
"I never came close to quitting," Hill, 35, said. "Even if I wasn't going to make the 2 million mark, I was still going to go as long as I could and set my personal best."
Hill's pursuit has won him acclaim from both mainstream media and members of skiing's hardcore tribe. This fall, when Hill spent his days climbing and skiing volcanoes in Chile, he bumped into the king of ski streaks, Rainer Hertrich, who Thursday skied his 2,617th consecutive day -- more than seven years and counting.
"He goes, 'Are you Rainer? Can I take a picture with you?'" Hertrich recalled Wednesday night. "And I go, 'Yeah, who are you?' And he said, 'I'm Greg Hill, and this is my mission.'"
Hertrich later saw Hill skinning up through a cloud "at a running pace," an image that remained fresh in his mind four months later.
"He actually ascended all his runs on skis. That's amazing," Hertrich said.
Hill said he might take some time off later this winter to have surgery on his shoulder, which has been hurt for 13 years. His wife, Tracey, daughter Charley, 5, and son Aiden, 4, want him around more, he said. He produced and released a half-dozen short films during the year, and plans to work on an all-encompassing finale in the months to come.
Of course, the film's star will be its creator, a unique and driven personality, to say nothing of his skiing. When asked who was the craziest person he met on his adventure, Hill said: "The guy who looked back in the mirror every day."