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Dispatches : Celebrities

Checking In with Skimo Racer Jessica Phillips

Jessica_for_Q&A Pro cyclist Jessica Phillips has always raced road in the summer and taught skiing in the winter. The 32-year-old Aspenite admits that the switch is necessary, because women’s pro cycling alone doesn’t exactly bring home the bacon. This year, she's taking her transition to a new level.

World Cup skimo competitor Monique Merrill hand-picked Phillips for a weekend of private lessons in Breckenridge, with the intent that Phillips would join her on the race scene this season. Merrill hopes that Phillips will bring some fresh blood to Worlds, where the US needs help in a sport dominated by the Euros.

Phillips’ debut race will be Nationals at Jackson Hole on January 8th. We caught up with Phillips last week to find out how she transitioned from bike racing with Colavita Baci to skimo racing, in case there's something we can learn.
--Jayme Otto

When do you switch from bike to ski?
That really depends on mother nature. Most of the time, it’s in December.  Then at the end of February or early March, we (Phillips is the girlfriend of road racer Tejay Van Garderen) head someplace warm like California or Arizona for two weeks to kick off our cycling season.

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Last Man on the Mountain: Jennifer Jordan Talks K2

DSC01500 In 1939, wealthy American adventurer Dudley Wolfe was abandoned high on an unconquered K2, becoming the Savage Mountain's first victim. For more than 60 years, no one knew his story. Enter Jennifer Jordan, author, filmmaker, and K2 expert, who discovered Wolfe's remains while living at the base of the mountain in 2002. Her second book, The Last Man on the Mountain, published in August, reveals the intriguing story of Dudley Wolfe's life and the truth about his death. I spoke with Jennifer to discuss her book and get the goods on what life is really like on K2.
--Nick Davidson

How did you get into mountaineering?
I got into it reading high altitude mountaineering books, Into Thin Air in particular. I was a journalist at the time in Boston, and because I could, I started interviewing a lot of the survivors of '96, particularly David Breashears. I asked questions that interested me, and I found a different story in there. The more I pursued it, the more it took me to K2 as I was fulfilling my obsession with high altitude. Somehow this mountain reached out and grabbed me, and it hasn't let go since.

Tell me about discovering Dudley Wolfe's remains in 2002.
I am in a very minuscule group of people who have gone to both sides of K2 without ever having any intention of climbing either. So, unlike most people who approach that mountain, who have their eyes set on the summit, always looking up, I had my eyes set firmly on the base at my feet—because first of all, it's treacherous walking around out there, and second, I had fallen into a crevasse on the north side of K2 two years before, so I was petrified of missing the snow bridge again and falling to the depths.

In my walkabouts, while the team was trying to climb the mountain, I would stumble upon the debris of expeditions past. Because of the topography of K2, everything and everyone that was once on the mountain eventually ends up at its base, either under their own steam, or because of the avalanches and the earthquakes and the wind, and just the sheer gravity and pitch of that mountain. I call it the world's highest graveyard. I always found something.

One day, Jeff Rhoads and I stumbled upon a debris field that instantly we knew was decades old, full of leather and hemp rope and bits of canvas and double-layer pants and Primus stove burners—stuff that hadn't been used in decades. I went around an ice tower and saw this skeleton laid out on the rocks. And then Jeff came back with Dudley Wolfe's glove, with his name on it, so we knew we had actually found the man.

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Quiksilver Signs New Deal with Surfer Stephanie Gilmore

Stephanie Gilmore, by Ashley Barrett                                                                         Photo by Ashley Barrett

Four-time ASP champion Stephanie Gilmore has signed a five-year contract with Quiksilver. In addition to surfing for the company, the 22-year-old Australia native will also act as a brand ambassador, joining 13 other artists, entertainers and philanthropists in promoting the company's lines of women's apparel, according to Transworld Surf.

Gilmore has won the ASP World Title the last four consecutive years and was the youngest ASP Women's World Champion in 2007.

For more on the defending champ, check out this Gilmore interview and this gallery of the Aussie in action.

-- Will Grant


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Skier Greg Hill Hits 2 Million Feet

Greg Hill                                     Greg Hill (Tommy Chandler/

After 266 days of climbing and skiing, and climbing and skiing, and climbing and skiing, Greg Hill hit his goal. His watch registered 2 million vertical feet on Rogers Pass, near his hometown of Revelstoke, British Columbia, on December 30th.

“The incredible feeling of no longer having this immense goal looming over my days is amazing. So much has gone into this tiny number on my watch – so much dedication, perseverance and passion,” said the 35-year-old athlete. “We all have dreams. I’ve realized that the fact is you have to work hard to achieve them and if you work hard enough it is possible to accomplish them.”

How did Hill do climb and ski 2 million feet in less than a year? Here's a quick by the numbers on his quest.

Greg Hill 4 Countries he skied in—Argentina, Chile, the United States, and Canada

4 Pairs of skis used during his quest

7,570 Average feet per day skied by Hill

238,000 Feet skied by Hill during his biggest month, December

77 Days that Hill logged more than 10,000 feet

71 Peaks climbed during the quest

69 Times climbing and skiing Everest, which is the equivalent of climbing and skiing 2 million vertical feet

40 Lbs. of gear strapped to his back on average during each session

163 Lbs. The weight of Hill at the start and end of his quest.

6,000 Calories Hill consumed in an average day to keep that weight.

1 Wedding ring lost. As much of the weight from Hill's body moved to his thighs, everywhere else, including his fingers, lost heft. "Midway through this quest I lost my wedding ring since my fingers were a little skinnier than usual," says Hill. "But luckily I combed the beach for a few hours and found it."

1:30 pm on December 30, the time at which Hill's watch registered 2 million vertical feet, leaving him with more than 1 full day to rest before his official deadline.

--Joe Spring

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Checking In with Skier Chris Davenport

Chris Davenport, Mike Arzt                                                             Chris Davenport, Mike Arzt

To say that ski mountaineer Chris Davenport stayed busy in 2010, would be an understatement. He came out with a new book (Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America), guided in Indonesia, and flew off on expeditions to dream ski destinations in places like Chile and Antarctica—all while tweeting the entire time (@steepskiing). Greg Fitzsimmons checks in with the Red Bull sponsored athlete on the highlights of this year and what's next for 2011.

Yo, Dav. How are things going?
Hey, Greg. I am on cloud nine right now; things are great. I just got back from a month of skiing in Chile to my favorite time of year in Aspen. I already have some skiing under my belt, I’ve been on my bike, my kids are back in school, and so we have a good routine.

Good to hear. First, how was last season for you?
Wow, I had a really busy year of travel. I think I was on the road 170 days.

What were some highlights?
It started out in the late fall when I did a trip to Indonesia to guide a climb on Carstensz Pyramid, which is one of the seven summits. I had never been to Indonesia before. I came back from [Indo], packed up and left for Antarctica. The Antarctica trip was one I had been working on for almost a year. When we finally flew down to Ushuaia, Argentina and walked up on the dock to see the sailboat we were going to be on for the next month I just rubbed my hands together and was like, “Okay, this is going to be cool.” We had 18 days of skiing on the Antarctic Peninsula. I had been there before, but it is by far one of the world’s most beautiful and inspiring skiing destinations. I could go into the ski season like: “Alright I’ve done these amazing things already” and it was nice to have something in the can like that.
After spending time with my family, taking my kids to ski races, enjoying the amazing skiing we have here in Aspen in late December and January, I crammed the SIA show, X Games, and Powder Awards into a week period. With the SIA Show, we were launching my new Kastle ski, the Chris Davenport FX-94, and so I was working a lot with media to blow that ski up.

Then, right after that, I flew up to Whistler in the first week of February for the Olympics. I was up there for the entire month working as the host alpine ski-racing announcer. I think I did 15 races or something like that. I had two weeks home in March after the Olympics and then I went up to Alaska with Warren Miller Films, Chugach Powder Guides, and my partner Stian Hagen.

From AK, I was home for two days and then flew out to California to meet up with another partner of mine, photographer Christian Pondella. Our goal was to continue a project I started the year before skiing all of California’s fourteeners. I showed up in California and we just started sending, going up and down, up and down up these mountains.

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