Extreme lines down steep slopes of the North American wilderness and helicopters that keep flying you back up to the tops of breathtaking peaks—it’s like a childhood dream for most snowboarders. To be honest, after carving an amazing line, who wouldn’t like to say “Scotty, beam me up again!”… and then hurtle down the mountain one more time.
Ride Greener and Coupdoeil Film tried a totally different approach in the winter of 2012/2013. Their goal was to show the ski scene and film industry that spectacular descents and childhood dreams can be achieved in front of your own doorstep, without jetting around the world or getting dropped off by helicopters. Since the whole thing should take place in the most environmentally friendly way possible, flights, helicopters, and snowmobiles were never used. Arrival to the base and transportation within the mountains was achieved solely with public transportation and by foot, in order to keep the CO2 emissions of the production as low as possible.
After 6 months of shooting, thousands of steps, uncountable drops of sweat and bitterly cold nights in the wilderness of the Alps, the film-makers and riders had to admit that it is still an illusion to produce a snowboard film without putting any stress on the environment. Eventually you arrive at the point where a late bus connection in the springtime has to be replaced by a car. Moreover, even public buses and trains use energy, and without gas there would be no warm dinner in the bivouac.
Nevertheless, Sten Smola, founder of Ride Greener and a Patagonia Snowboard Ambassador, is convinced that the film can be a first step towards a new sustainable winter sports paradigm.
“Exploring new grounds in front of your own doorstep in the Alps by foot, with a snowboard on the back and help from public transportation, isn’t just a promising example of living up to sustainability demands. With each step, you also regain the feeling of distance, space, and time in their natural dimensions”, says Smola.
At the same time, one has to be aware that such a pioneering film project requires quite a lot of sweat, strength, and nerves. Success or failure are never far apart, as even the best laid plans can go awry when you are on foot. All too often, the weather and sought-after slopes present ideal conditions on only a few winter days. If you are at the wrong place at the wrong time, you just had bad luck and have to—in the worst case—wait another year.
There is no helicopter that can quickly fly you to the other side of the valley where the fog has already moved out or where the wind hasn’t blown away all the snow. On top of that, the numerous action shots have to be at a high level. The filmgoers don’t make a compromise here only because the scenes were shot in an environmentally friendly way.
“That is the unfair part of a climate-friendly film production,” says Stephan Hermann from Coupdoeil Film.
With a helicopter you can take about as many shots in one day as in ten days on foot. “That can definitely be frustrating, but in the end it’s worth it. You are doing a favour for the environment as well as for yourself”, says Hermann. In the end, you live each line much more intensely and the memory stays with you for longer. The best thing of all, however, is the realization that you can make a difference all by yourself.