What should you do when there’s no snow in the valley at the end of the season and most of the resort is already closed? It’s pretty simple, rent a camper, head for the snowy mountain passes and start exploring the backcountry with a splitboard or build a kicker next to the street! That’s what Völkl riders Simon Pircher, Peter Walchhofer and Marc Großgasteiger did at the end of last season. Together with photographer Alex Papis and filmer Balint they spent ten days in a very small space but with a lot of creative freedom.
“Our plan was to drive around the mountain passes in Austria, Italy and Switzerland and find spots that were accessible without a lift or gondola”, explained photographer Alex Papis the road trip, which started in Innsbruck and led the group to Italy on the first day.
At Passo Tonale, which perches at almost 2000meters above sea level they quickly found a spot but it was already late in the afternoon so they decided to shoot it the next day and built a bonfire under the starry sky instead. “With a camper you are so flexible and independent; you can just stop anywhere. I felt very close to the nature”, Marc Großgasteiger said about the trip. The crew spent the next day shaping a corner and started hitting at sunset. Sand from the Sahara that had blown across the Alps a week before had dyed the snow yellow and provided a unique setting.
Our first stop was the Passo Tonale in Italy. After we found a spot for the next day we spent a nice evening in front of the campfire drinking beers. Unfortunately we didn’t know our camper too well and had to spent the night without heating. (Peter Walchhofer)
The next day the crew started up the camper again and headed towards Livigno on the Swiss border. On their way to the Eira Pass the riders discovered a wooden MTB vert, which turned out to be the perfect handplant spot! After a great session they continued their journey into Switzerland and stopped at Julier Pass. Exploring the backcountry with their splitboards, the riders soon found a nice natural quarter and had a fun session, which resulted in great shots.
We hit a different spot almost every day, which sometimes also involved a bit of hiking. After a few days the inside of our camper didn’t smell too nice. I think everyone would agree if I say that our visit to the hot springs in Meran was a good idea. Overall it was an incredibly cool and productive trip and the perfect way to end the season! (Simon Pircher)
Another day, another mountain pass: on their way to the 2300meter high Bernina Pass, which connects Switzerland with Italy, the crew found numerous creative features but in the end went for a “rainbow tree” and a corner with an extremely icy landing that wasn’t easy to ride.
The next stop was the Ofen Pass, which offered better snow conditions: “This was my personal highlight of the trip”, Peter Walchhofer said. “We brought a BBQ and guitar, built a fun kicker and had an incredible session with a lot of backflips, tweaks and beers.” After a successful day and a week without a shower the crew had rightly earned a visit to the hot springs of Meran, in South Tyrol, and enjoyed their escape from the confines of the camper.
Despite a not very promising weather forecast for the next days the group was still keen on checking out one last pass. Like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the riders found a real gem at the end of the closed pass: “We drove to the dead end of the mountain pass, hiked up a little and suddenly saw all these incredible features”, remembered Alex Papis. “Unfortunately the snow was already too bad to hit them but we will definitely come back next year. Until then I will keep this little shred paradise a secret”.