Last March was a good one: The van was freshly serviced, I met family in Geneva, snowboarded in Switzerland and then filmed a short documentary about Jakob Weger in Italy. To get this project underway, I knew I needed an extra set of hands. In came Tomas. Flown in from Ireland, we talked strategy over a weekend on the Swiss slopes before making a treacherous journey across the Juliper Pass into Italy to link up with the Weger clan.
First impressions are important, but thankfully not to Jakob and his family. We showed up exhausted and completely weather beaten from a weekend that was meant to be 'the fun before the work'. Tomas went legally blind for two days, being put out of action as the rest of us marched on. Jakob's story is fantastic. An u23 European kayaking champion, was second in overall national rankings when we met him (first place represents Italy in the Olympics) yet his passion lay in a funky sport called splitboarding. A splitboard is basically a snowboard that separates into two skis, allowing you to hike up your own routes and snowboard down. He does it. Everyday. It was painful trying to keep up with him on the ascents in my snowshoes.
We shot the project over five different outings in the Sud Tyrol region of north Italy. It was interesting to be on the top of a mountain and get a notification saying 'Welcome to Austria', flirting with the border on the peak. That whole month was, for me, my most 'beautiful' month I've experienced. A great attempt for the top spot, at least. The Alps were no joke and it was a genuine privilege to be tagging along with Jakob - someone who really knew the mountains. There was plenty of humbling in store, though. Over the five days, I managed to witness (and be a part of) two small avalanches. Asking Jakob if that's common, he reassuringly said 'No.' Scary. Bringing the camera gear up the mountain was a tricky one. It was awesome to see Matthias not even break stride with my tripod secured to his backpack. It was less awesome, though, when I had to bring it up the next day. Mamma Mia, health is wealth.
All of the hardship was for sure worth it. Connecting with Jakob and his family was an amazing experience. It was the perfect excuse to get together, make something great, and plan for the next one! Here's the final product. Les