Backcountry skier covers 2.5 million vertical feet in a single year

When outdoor adventurer Greg Hill set a record for skiing the most vertical feet in a single year back in 2010, his accomplishment was heralded as a tremendous feat requiring a mix of endurance, dedication, and skill. Over the course of that year, he managed to climb and ski more than 2 million vertical feet, averaging roughly 5,500 feet per day. When he was finished, it seemed as if Hill had set a record that would stand for a very long time. Six years later, backcountry skier Aaron Rice has managed to raise the bar even higher.

The short documentary above takes us along on Rice’s year-long quest to break Hill’s record. The video begins in December 2015, just a few weeks before he embarked on this massive undertaking, which officially got underway on January 1, 2016, in his hometown of Alta, Utah. From there, he spent the next 12 months skiing as often as he could, traveling to Colorado, Oregon, and California to take advantage of the best snow amiable. And when summer arrived in North America, he traveled south to Argentina and Chile to continue his pursuit of this goal.

backcountry skier uphill record aaron rice ski 1
Photo courtesy of Tyler Wilkenson-Ray

When he set out to break Hill’s record, Rice knew that he couldn’t use any ski lifts or rope tows to help him get to the top. Instead he would have to first climb up all of the mountains that he would ski, making this an epic challenge indeed. In order to ski up all those hills, backcountry skiers apply climbing skins to the base of their skis. The skins are adhesive-backed swaths of fabric that are placed on the base of the skis at the tips and tail, providing a bit of extra traction and preventing them from sliding backwards as they work their way up the mountain. When put in place, skins allow skiers to more easily climb up slopes without having to take their skis off along the way.

It took Rice the majority of last year to set his new record as he surpassed the 2.5-million-foot mark on December 29, 2016. That means he averaged in the neighborhood of 6,850 vertical feet for the entire year, which is an impressive number to say the least. To find out how he did it, watch the video above and read about his record-setting year on his official website.

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