On March 31, ski mountaineer Greg Hill set the record for most vertical feet climbed in one month – a whopping 328,000 feet. Speaking from his home in Revelstoke, British Columbia, the day after the accomplishment, Hill told Men's Journal about the gear and apparel that he "put through the ringer" during his record-breaking ascent. He used prototypes from both Salomon and Arc'Teryx – perhaps the most hard-core gear test ever conducted.
Hill used a prototype Salomon ski similar to the Q-105 NA that he refers to as a "mid-fat ski." Designed for off-piste skiing, with a 105-mm waist, Hill says it's light, but still a "real ski" in terms of power. He was happy with the ski's performance, as well as the boots, which were also a Salomon prototype.
For poles, he used Salomon's Element Vario, which are adjustable – a critical feature in ski mountaineering as different lengths are necessary when hiking or skinning versus skiing. When Hill had to put in long days to reach his goal during the last week, he especially appreciated the lightweight carbon fiber.
His bright yellow jacket and blue pants were both ski mountaineering prototypes from Arc'Teryx, using a brand new fabric technology from Gore. "It had the waterproof stuff where you need it, like your shoulders and hood, and then it was breathable in the places you need it to breathe," says Hill. "It was perfect for the aerobic activity I was doing. This will define outerwear for ski mountaineering. Look for it next season."
For base layers, Hill has a personal preference: no long johns. "I get too hot," he says, "and I feel like when I get hot I slow down, and that can't happen." Instead, he pairs the Arc'Teryx Phase SL Boxer Short, a lightweight, moisture-wicking boxer, with his long-sleeved Arc'Teryx top, the Phase SV Zip Neck (SV for "severe weather").
In his 31 days on the mountain, Hill had not a single gear malfunction. "I drove a snowmobile into a ditch," he says "but that was user error."