Greg Hill: Revelstoke, B.C.’s high-powered skier passes it on

After Olympian Christina Lustenberger ended her career with the Canadian alpine ski team and moved from Invermere to Revelstoke, B.C. in 2008, she was excited to explore nearby Rogers Pass. But trying to find new people to skin with was a daunting task, especially with the possibility of chasing living legends like Greg Hill, who’d become famous for skinning and skiing two million vertical feet in 2010. That didn’t stop Lustenberger from approaching Hill and asking to join for a tour. From there, the two developed a mentor/mentee relationship that propelled Lustenberger further into a career as a professional skier and ski guide and changed the way she moves in the mountains. Here’s what she had to say about her backcountry time spent with the legendary Revelstoke-based vert-logger.

Greg Hill eats up vert in his Rogers Pass. B.C. playground. [Photo] Garrett Grove

When I stepped away from ski racing with a pretty structured lifestyle, I didn’t know the possibilities of what I could do in the backcountry. So it was neat to move to Revelstoke and come to Rogers Pass and see all of these mountains and different ski lines. But at that point in my life, I was unsure of what I could do. I knew what I’d seen in Matchstick [Productions] movies of big ski lines, but I wasn’t sure of how to go about skiing like that or with whom to go ski.

It took a few months of living in Revelstoke and hearing about Greg [Hill] and his friends, who’d pretty much skied all of the lines I was initially drawn to in Rogers Pass, to approach him. At that time he’d made little videos and posted things online, so that helped me see what I could ski. I wanted to meet those people who had that experience, so I just nudged my way into finding a ski partner, friend and mentor in Greg.

I remember the first day I skied with him in the pass. I was really intimidated, and I brought way more food than I needed to, because I was like, “I’ve gotta be able to keep up with this guy.” And the whole day I was on his tails asking him questions about what he’s skied, what he’s done, how he works. I wouldn’t say that I’ve followed in his footsteps, but I definitely feel like our career paths have been similar; he’s gone through the ski guiding program, and his approach to the mountains and different lines that he’s skied are similar to what I’m drawn to. We both love ski touring and the ski mountaineering style of approaching the mountains.

He’s pushed away from classic ski touring, and I think he was at the forefront of exploratory ski mountaineering in this area; he’s part of that newer generation. There have been people ski touring and doing traverses for a very long time, but, in some ways, he’s changed the way people in this area look at terrain. Greg was the person who started that new era of ski-mountaineering touring in Revelstoke.

Revelstoke is a small town, and I was looking for partners who inspire confidence in myself and in being in the mountains, and he was definitely someone who I could learn a lot from—how to eventually approach those types of lines on my own. It didn’t take long for me to build my confidence and intuition to start being a leader of a group. Greg had been leading his crew of friends for a long time, and so I aspired to learn that role, too.

When you go out skiing with him, it’s kind of like being with a kid who is exploring his backyard. He just wants to see what’s around the next corner, and he’s got the fitness and energy to do it. He wants to go and see what the possibilities are. I think that’s one thing I’ve really taken away from skiing with him: make the effort and just go see. He’s so curious as a skier, and I’ve tried to bring that into my own way of interacting with the mountains. I want to be curious and have fun with it. We’re all just really big kids playing in the mountains.

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