Greg Mallory broke his back, skiing in 1994, while jumping off a rock outcropping at Mount Hood Meadows, Oregon. He shattered the top lumbar vertebrae (L1) of his spine and after a back surgery and three weeks in rehab, Greg was left paralyzed below the belt line due to a bruised spinal cord. However that didn’t stop him from leading a stoke-filled outdoor lifestyle and the following winter he went to Sun Valley to take alpine skiing lessons from Marc Mast at the Wood River Adaptive Program. He’s skied in a mono ski ever since. Marc also invited Greg to a cross-country development camp resulting in him racing on the U.S. Ski Team for eight years and competing in two Paralympics (Torino ’06 and Vancouver ’10)!
Skiing now demands less of Greg’s time though as ski season is also kayak season in the Pacific Northwest and the best way to describe Greg’s skill on the water is that he rips it! The initial appeal of kayaking was that he would be in the “same position as everyone else on the river,” sat down in a kayak! People who meet Greg on the river just know that he’s a gifted, skilled, and clearly fearless paddler. Check out this great short film about Greg’s Kayaking from nrsfilms:
The film highlights the importance of teamwork within the adventure sports community. Describing his second whitewater swim, Greg recalls, “It turned out to be a Class 4+ walled-in gorge…we all had less than ten river trips under our belts at that point. All three of us swam immediately. I stuck close to one of my buddies (who) somehow kept a hold of his boat and he got me in it towards the end of the gorge…After swearing at myself for being so stupid, I decided the good news was that I could swim fairly hard whitewater (which) gave me the confidence to keep going…Another time a buddy gave me his boat and hiked out because I had lost my boat in a swim and there was no way to get me out of the canyon…Another time a group of boaters put me at the front of a long line waiting to portage (carrying your water craft) a rapid, with night about to fall…(oh yeah, it was also snowing)…there have been countless times where my buddies have hauled me into, around, and out of very difficult places where it would have been much easier for them to just ‘forget’ to call me to kayak that day.”
Right now Greg is on a two-year road trip from Oregon to Patagonia with a bunch of friends. “We’re traveling in four Sprinter vans that we converted for the trip. My van has a kitchen, refrigerator, bench, queen-size bed, solar power, outdoor shower and room to spare. I rented out my house before I left, and I’m not missing a thing about it.” Greg said. Sounds like luxury adventure travel to me!