Words and photos Spencer Francey – Chasing Winter Productions
The world is getting smaller and smaller as each day passes and snowboarders all over the world are getting farther and farther into the backcountry. These once exotic areas are becoming more and more like snowboard parks rather then secluded places where only the lucky few have laid eyes on. Let alone get to ride untouched peaks with perfect waist deep powder.
This was our plan though. I had a crew from NIKE/ACG and BlankPaper Studios to pick up at the Calgary International Airport and our mission was to head into the interior mountain ranges near Revelstoke, British Columbia to document the deepest snow we could find. All accessed via snowmobiles.
When I was asked to produce this section of the film for ACG I was told the focus was SWEETSPOTS. I thought about more then a few locations were this could all happen but my thoughts always came back to this one location situated near Revelstoke, Canada. It was kind of like my own sweet spot that I always liked to visit for deep snow and good times with friends. I had some major worries though about the European crew. It wasn’t the amazing terrain or the deep snow which I’m sure that they would all be stoked on. It was the snowmobiling. It’s every skier and snowboarder’s dream to hang out in the mountains all day and be shuttled up and down the mountain on snowmobiles and never cross another person’s track, let alone see anyone else besides the people you’re riding with. A lot of this is true. The part that people don’t realize is that snowmobiling is extremely hard on your body for one. The second issue? Snowmobiles are very hard to drive in deep snow and can be dangerous.
Pulling into the airport I could only hope that flights were all on time and all of the baggage came in as well. Everyone rolled off the plane fine except for Henning’s snowboard bag. Not cool considering he was the main focus of the SWEETSPOT. After some baggage juggling and talking with the airline “YES MEN” we hit the highway with a nasty storm brewing to the west. Exactly where we were headed.
Our ultimate destination was to be Revelstoke, British Columbia. This meant that we had to first drive West through Banff, Alberta and into British Columbia. Massive avalanches had made travelling any farther then Lake Louise, Alberta impossible so it was lights out for the crew in the beautiful hamlet of Lake Louise.
An early breakfast before sunrise brought some bad news about the road. It was still closed and was to stay that way possibly all day. This meant heading back East to take a detour of detours. I explained to everyone that they’d get to see more of the Canadian landscape then originally planned and to just sit back and relax. The peddle was to the floor and we had to stop in Golden, British Columbia to visit a good friend of mine who happens to have a ton of great snowboard gear and we basically outfitted Henning on the spot with a good board that he liked. Thanks to Soaper!!
We were back on the highway and there was no stopping us. We used the next 6 hours of the drive to get to know one another. I was excited to work with BlankPaper Studios and knew right away that Boris Benedek and his assistant Joel would be easy to work with. I had already known Henning from other trips around the world but was interested to see how he would adapt to the snowmobiling and Canadian terrain. The crew really had no idea what they were getting into. I told them about as much as I could and they had seen some location photos online. In reality though this is the kind of place you have to see to believe. Steep peaks to draw lines on, tree runs that go on forever and perfect pillows that would put any snow junkie to bed with sweet dreams.
I had the perfect crew set up to drive the snowmobiles for this very green/rookie group of pretty much first time snowmobilers. This would make sure that more riding and filming were done and less digging and swearing at machines. The crew I’m talking about are a group of no binding riders that pretty much rule the area that I had chosen for the ACG-SWEET SPOT. And yes…. You heard right. These guys ride snowboards with out bindings and have the entire surrounding areas on lock down. Check it out if your interested in more no binding riding… www.noboard.ca
We came in off the highway and a truck load of completely exhausted snowboarders rolled into the cabin that would be our home for the next 12 days. An amazing dinner awaited us since I had arranged for an amazing local chef to cook for us as well as act an extra photographer. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner were all made possible by Jenna… Good food can always make the hardest days easy. Thanks again!
A typical BC, Canada misty morning greeted us and we gassed up the snowmobiles and the snowmobile crew gave a quick “How to double” on a snowmobile lesson and we were off into the white. The first few days were spent scouting the area and getting a feeling for the huge expanse that we had access to. There were a million lines to ride but only so much time. Fingers were pointing all over the place as we travelled farther and farther into the alpine gaining elevation with every bowl that we climbed on the snowmobiles.
Everyone seemed to doing fine on the snowmobiles and Henning was stoked on the terrain so our only worry was that the weather cooperated and we could ride and film as much good snow as possible.
This trip had the most diverse weather. It was almost perfect and almost a disaster. It went from us riding the high alpine bowls and being on top of the world. Then within 48 hours we were riding tree runs because it was puking so hard. This would almost be the best riding of the trip but almost impossible to film anything because of the heavy snow. Then the coin flipped back over to give us more sun and amazing runs in the alpine. The final days of the trip though would bring an unusual warm spell that had us building small kickers on the side of the snowmobile road. Still fun times! It just seemed like an insane roller coaster of weather and every day showed us a different mountain to ride and film on.
The bad weather days were spent in the small town near the cabin. There was also an indoor mini ramp that the snowmobiler/noboarders had built. Henning seemed right at home on the mini ramp. He also left quite the impression on the locals and seemed to fit right in with the whole crew. His huge Viking presence on the mountain and his good attitude had everyone cheering him on and off the mountain.
The shoot and trip had come to a close and we hit the highway towards the airport in Calgary. We stopped at a couple of the resorts on the way including Kicking Horse and Lake Louise where the group of us got to relax and little and get in some freeriding minus all the camera gear. I dropped them all off at the airport and Henning’s bag was there at the airport waiting for him. He smiled and told me about what a great time he had and just grabbed the bag. I jumped into my truck and headed right back to the SWEETSPOT. There was snow in the forcast…
Watch Henning’s Sweetspot on Onboard TVnow.
For more Sweetspot shizzle, click your way over to the Nike ACG Sweetspots site.