As I prepared to interview Greg Hill, a Canadian ski mountaineer who has taken it upon himself to help propagate a sustainable shift in ski culture, my eyes worked over the back of an envelope filled with notes. Its penciled contents were gathered from Greg’s many interviews, films and musings from over the years, spanning a celebrated career in the mountains. I was looking for nuggets of wisdom, key themes and approaches employed over the years to get a better understanding of Greg’s mindset and mission, one that has helped transform the way many in the outdoor space and traditional snow and adventure athletes alike craft their approach to life, work and play.
Greg is more than just a ski mountaineer, filmmaker and truly amazing human. He’s a father, husband and environmental activist, a keen adventurer who climbed and skied two million vertical feet in 2010 and climbed 71 mountains in both North America and South America over 266 days of ski-touring. He planted a million trees and challenged the ski industry to question its reliance on fossil-fueled modes of adventure transportation with the creation of his 2019 acclaimed film, Electric Greg, which showcased his shift away from snow machines, helicopters and trucks to a humble electric car and human-powered pursuit of adventures on ski. His film propelled a shift in mindset across the broader ski community as many began to question whether there were more sustainable and climate-mindful ways to access and ski mountains. Today, Greg continues to tirelessly promote climate awareness, double down on his personal pursuit of living a more sustainability-minded lifestyle and act as a role model for many within the broader ski and outdoor community – and rightly so! It’s safe to say Greg has fans near far.
Before long, my envelope notepad was full of quotes and sentiments, edge to edge, and somewhere in the upper right third I had, bolded and circled for posterity, a quote from his 2019 film, Electric Greg, which jumped out from the page. He said, “I started to realize the biggest reward is feeling good about what I’m doing…”
A newfound perspective on life. One that would focus his efforts, impacts and lifestyle choices to reduce his negative impact on nature.
Years ago, Greg nearly died in an avalanche while skiing in Pakistan. This shook him in a profound way. With a broken leg and a newfound perspective on life after skiing and climbing 2 million vertical feet in 2010, summiting 77 mountain peaks along the way, etching his place in the history of skiing, Greg turned a new leaf.
On that fateful and undoubtedly transformative day, he pledged to double down on a seed that had been planted long ago, one that would focus his efforts, impacts and lifestyle choices to reduce his negative impact on nature and increase the positive impacts. He recognized there was something a bit off balance when he took stock of his values and compared them to the typical professional skier lifestyle that had become ingrained in his pursuit of excellence in the mountains.
This mindset shift precipitated his pivot from gas-guzzling snow machines and helicopter-assisted adventures to human and electric-powered pursuits, which became a cornerstone of Greg’s approach and influence in an industry deeply reliant on fossil-fueled adventures and polyester gear, ultimately made of oil, and oftentimes with the shelf life of a single season.
Prioritizing sustainability and celebrating brands that work responsibly
Greg took the leap and decided to show the world there was another way, that these adventures could be done with the planet and future generations in mind, that his gear should be cherished, made as sustainably as possible, repaired, its life extended for season after season in the mountains.
This wasn’t just an attempt to rewire his approach but more broadly to challenge and inspire his community and the outdoor and ski industries that he was such a big part of.
Greg realized that if he prioritized sustainability, celebrated brands that work responsibly and with nature in mind, and highlighted easy ways for others to adopt sustainable practices in their own lives, then massive change for good was possible. Maybe he would inspire others. Maybe they would join him. He just needed to be brave and start.
Find out how the conversation continues in part two!