Hill suits up in outerwear from Arc’teryx, including hard- and soft-shell jackets like the company’s Gamma MX jacket with Polartec Power Shield fabric and the GORE–TEX-based Alpha SV.
He has also been testing the to-be-released GORE–TEX Active Shell, a hardshell face fabric W.L. Gore & Associates touts as its most breathable technology to date. Active Shell is waterproof and windproof, but the membrane is half the weight of previous GORE–TEX versions. Hill’s test so far has been positive, and he says he can wear Active Shell longer as it breaths better than his existing systems.
I asked Hill about gear that fails on his days in the hills. He claims his system is so dialed that things rarely go wrong on the gear front, though he did note climbing skins failing when it’s too cold. In Canada, where temps can dredge below zero on regular winter days, Hill said the adhesive on his climbing skins becomes less effective and the skins can slip.
Other random and interesting gear includes Backcountry.com’s Dawn Patrol Vacuum Coffee Tumbler, the Mammut Pulse Barryvox Avalanche Beacon, Black Diamond’s Raven Pro Ice Axe, a Petzl Tibloc emergency ascender, and a helmet camera from V.I.O. Inc. He wears a simple ball cap to keep the sun off when it’s warm.
The year’s altitudinal progress is tracked on a Suunto X6 HR watch, a trusty tool he wears every day. Its built-in barometric altimeter counts feet gained on the climb and skied on the descent. He stores the totals on the watch as well as in a logbook for backup at home, with 1,796,544 feet tabulated thus far. Says Hill, “I keep a backup on my computer just in case.”