Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival: Greg Hill on Ski Mountaineering

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Greg Hill Manaslu

Greg Hill and team on Manaslu during their September 2012 attempt. Photo Credit: Greg Hill

Greg Hill, known by many in the ski mountaineering world as the iconic "Two-mil-Hill", held court for an hour in North Vancouver's Centennial Theatre last Saturday. While the show marked skiing's arrival to the 16th annual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and the mood was pleasant, the topic was a heavy one. In September 2012, Hill and his team were first on scene an avalanche that killed 12 people on Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world and the fourth deadliest of the 8,000 meter peaks. An eye-opening presentation, it was inspiring to see such an ambassador of the sport completely open about his newfound humility when facing the mountains and the lessons he learned and re-learned from the experience.

Hill listed off a number of rules that he tries his hardest to observe any time he's in the backcountry. Paraphrased, they read simply:

1. Be afraid

2. Be prepared

3. Travel with people who share your risk tolerance

4. Spend as little time exposed as possible and stop only in safe zones.

5. Tackle the smaller objectives first, then the big ones

While these may seem obvious to the fire-side reader, the lines can quickly blur when chasing the summit of an 8,000 meter peak, or even that fresh foot of powder that fell last night on your back yard hill.

Greg spent a large part of his stage time taking the audience through a play-by-play account of his team's attack on Mera and Manaslu. He was clear to note both the group's collective misjudgments as well as his own shortcomings in decision-making and the management of gear, people and terrain; it was easy to see his passion for driving home the need to think rationally in the mountain.

Following a Q&A session and intermission, the evening was concluded with a screening of Further, Jeremy Jones's 2012 feature length chronicle of worldwide backcountry snowboarding, mostly under human power. The presentations were brilliantly juxtaposed, highlighting everything that can go so right and so wrong while chasing those glorious experiences in the mountains.

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival continues through this week, spanning eight days and 25 shows of adventure-laden story telling.

- Theo Birkner

Adventure Travel Collective

The Adventure Travel Collective will be on hand for VIMFF, taking inspiration and information from these true worldwide adventurers and passing it on to anyone looking to emulate their exploits.

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