By Greg Hill
In 1999, while I was beginning my backcountry adventures I was fortunately unfortunate to witness a major avalanche. I know this sounds odd but as a young wild adventurous boy I was fairly oblivious to the true hazards of the mountains. I was young fit and driven to explore but really blind to the mountains. I had enough self-analysis to understand that I knew nothing so I took my Canadian Avalanche Level 1 course.
It was during that course that I witnessed a class 4 avalanche and was part of a full blown rescue. Sadly Shane, an acquaintance, passed away in this slide; also a great friend, Frank, suffered multiple fractures. I remember standing on the side of Mt-Macdonald, watching the last patient being long lined off into the setting sun. While watching them fly away I vowed that I would learn as much as I could to avoid such a catastrophe happening to me or the people I ski with.
This was so fortunate because I am sure that without having witnessed first hand the severe implications of messing up I would not have dedicated the next years to learning mountain sense.
Now years later I have developed some great rules, that have worked really well for me. Truly they have never failed me, but I have failed them…..
While on an expedition to Pakistan in 2014 I made a huge mistake. This mistake almost cost me my life… luckily for me it did not… But while I was sitting in the debris, with a broken leg and a severely bruised body, I reflected on what I had done wrong. I knew instantly that I had broken many of the rules that had kept me alive for years. There is a way to move around the mountains that minimizes the risks. There will always be risks, otherwise it would not be an adventure, but you can do many things to deal with these risks.
This video “ my rules”, are my rules to minimize these risks, because I know that I cannot stop and will not stop going out in the mountains and taking risks. It is such a big part of who and what I am. Yet I can do it in a way that is smart and has a process to it. I am not blindly wandering around.
I made this video for the simple purpose of scaring people a little bit and getting them to think and understand the risks they are taking. This is a first in a little series of videos I am making. The second I am calling “tricks of the terrain” it is a more on the ground approach to backcountry skiing. These little tricks that have been taught to me by my mentors and by the mountains. Ideally the rules I share and the tricks I teach help you make good decisions in the mountains and enjoy them for years to come.