Greg Hill.ca

Just visiting….

How is my recovery going? Its been 9 months since surgery and where am I in terms of healing. People see me out and about in the mountains and they think that I am back. But I am not. I am just visiting…

What I mean by this is that I can ski tour, I can summit mountains. I can dig deep and suffer as well as before. But I am not a 100%, not by a long shot. There are many different ways that my injury affects me. The worst is when survival skiing, when my leg needs to respond quickly, or needs to reflexively react. It doesn’t do that well, its awkward and slow. When i am powder skiing its fine, but with all the variable (i.e. shitty) skiing we have right now I get wrecked. Side slipping for thousands of feet down hard snow, rattles me and tires me out a tonne. But I can hiked thousands of feet and summit things, so life is good.

I can’t complain at being where I am, and will not. I will continue to work out, and focus on getting back to 100%. I will get there, just not immediately. I feel by the one year mark I will be pretty good and then by next winter, strong again.

On the topic of “just visiting” I went to Japan a few weeks ago. I received a text on Wednesday from Arc’teryx asking if I could go the next day. In less than 24 hours I was driving to the airport and on my way to Niseko Japan. Part of me has hated the social media #japow and how amazing it is. I didn’t want to buy in to the whole idea of the amazing powder over there. But once I got there and experienced it I realized it was as good as all the media was portraying.

To me Japan, has always been a magical place, where samurais lived and ninjas were born. One of my favourite books has been “Musashi”, an epic novel about a samurais journey through life.Throughout the book Musashi, develops and hones a two sword technique. I thought it apt that I was traveling to Japan to help hone my own two ski technique. A daydream of mine has been to go live with training samurais and learn their ways while skiing through their magical trees and deep snow. This reality was halfway there…

Our goal was to get photos of Arc’teryx clothing for 2016, and Angela Percival was our talented photographer, always willing to work hard and get the shot.

Peta Gunderson, a norwegian shredder, was there to style out the girls gear while I was there to hopefully do the same for the men’s clothing.

My first day I spent a few hours riding this crazy solo chair on Niseko mountain.

We were super lucky as black diamond tours co-ordinated everything for us. Luckily since they had every thing dialled, and understood our needs. Which were fairly simple, deep cold snow and cool trees to ski around.

Without Black Diamond and our trusty driver/co-ordinater Matt we would not have had a simple trip. It’s not the easiest place to get around, since there is no english signage or anything to make it easier for us, non japanese speaking tourists. There are so many interesting things that they do there, and you can see that they deal with a lot of snow. So much that the snowblowers that people have out huge, almost tank like. Also since there are so many storms while driving they have developed these arrows that point out the edge of the road. So that while blinded by the storm you can still stay on the road.

As a powder snob, I always thought the snow would be coastal and not the silky stuff I really love. But somehow, although almost parallel with Oregon, it gets cold fluffy snow. There is some Siberian cold air that flows down and meets that pacific moisture and just dumps incredible snow.

Snow that is so good its worth a visit. Put this place on your bucket list… its a must visit. There was so much culture that I did not see, so many temples and old villages that I missed out on. Having only a week we were teased by the place, and I will return. Not only for the heated toilet seats, with built in bidet.

But also for the chaos of tokyo.

As for now I am training, healing and getting stronger so I can not only visit but have a “come back”…..