Tyler Chorlton has been having a helluva time recently. Having headed over to Alaska to shoot some late season powder stuff for his part in the forthcoming Pirate movie, he encountered locals, legends, and all the various wierd-ness that makes the Alaskan experience unique. Here’s the story of his trip in the words of the man himself:
“After trying to deal with the lack of snow in Europe Fichtl, Arthur, Carlos and I made the 26 hour journey to Anchorage AK, to hook up with Pasha for a 3 week sled trip to find winter snow again. But our excitement had to be suppressed for 2 days because as usual our luggage didn’t make our flight… then got lost…
But eventually the airline company sorted its shit out, 4am delivery i had to stay awake for… they arrived! Then at 7am the next morning it was time to boost! We drove a couple of hours to the north with the Russian/Alaskan dude of all dudes Sergey who hooked us up big time!
When we unloaded the sleds the view of the mountains was insane! After a half hour sled ride of showing our sled skills to the Sergey (yeah right!) we found our first spot.
Shit was amazing! Thank you AK! And thank you Sergey for the shuttling! Session over we decided to scope out further into the valley, we were sledding over some enormous slides that had come down some days before and the place made you feel very small. When you spot a feature in AK you realize once you get up close that its about 5 times bigger than you previously thought and that if you hit it you’d probably die or even worse…
The end of the day was approaching fast and to save a 2 to 3 hour drive back to Anchorage we stayed in a lodge close by. Next morning, sore as a bitch we unloaded the sleds once again. On the way in we spotted a zone we had missed the previous day sessioned that instead to going deeper into the valley and feeling like micro-ants… Some shots in the bag for everyone, stoked, time to head back to the city to recover while the bad weather passes over and dumps its dump.
After our week in and around Anchorage it was time to head out to Valdez. The drive is a good 5 to 6 hours so we thought we’d break up the journey and go see a glacier on the way. A man called Bill took up on the back of his sled along with his rifle in case any bears would be hanging around… The sight as you can see was pretty amazing…
Finally in Valdez it turned out we were staying in the same place as everyone doing the Tailgate Alaska so it was nice to see some familiar faces and meet some true legends. The weather was on our side for the week, but unfortunately a couple of day into filming and getting to know the area our Kamchatkanamerican/mechanic/shuttler/partyleader/mega dude Sergey hurt his knee and had to head back to Anchorage to see the doc… hope its not bad news.
After Sergey left, the chaos started to happen… on the first morning out Pacha and I both managed to roll our sleds and send them flipping down the mountain and Arthur managed to drive his sled through the back window of our truck while loading up… Not bad guys! Eventually as always, bad weather was about to roll in so Pasha told us were going on a boat ride for Arthur’s farewell to Mammoth and to celebrate Marco’s birthday!
The weather was due to be bad for a while so Marco and I decided to try to do something in a nice bumpy tree area by Thompson pass we spotted the week before. The snow had got pretty heavy but Marco and I were determined to start the week off well. We found a nice looking step down so we got it setup and waited for a little more light. Marco went first, landed in a hole and compressed his knee… Nooo! I tried a little more but after a few more tries it was evident the snow was just too heavy and there wasn’t enough new snow to land anything. So we
called it a day.
A few miles down the road Pasha and Carlos broke down having forgotten to refill the tank… Nooo! We drove back to Valdez to get fuel for them, after some faffing around at the gas station we finally got back to Pasha who had been waiting alone up on the pass. We put gas in… still wouldn’t start – now the battery was dead. OK, we thought, lets find some jump cables… still nothing! Right, shit. So we called someone to come pick it up and figured we’d sort it later.
Next day I got about an hour’s window to shoot alone, and the snow was kinda OK. I found a nice ollie to trannie finder but by the time we were done, the snow had become soup! During the following days the weather stayed real shitty up on the pass, Marco’s knee hadn’t improved and cabin fever was setting in. Nooo!
When i couldn’t take the hotel no more, I tried to face the wet forest area alone. Epic fail! Nothing went down, the snow was having none of it. It just seemed to get wetter and stickier and the weather just got worse and worse. Nooo! The truck had been in the RV repair for a few days and the mechanic just couldn’t start it. So Sergey decided to get someone to come pick it up and tow it back to Anchorage. A few hours later Sergey called and told us he fiddled with the fuses a little and played around under the hood for a few minutes and started it up first go! We couldn’t believe it… Nooo!
So there you go, 3 weeks in AK done. We have learned a lot here. I gotta say our sled skillz are just epic now – we only flipped them like 20 times probably and only have a couple of thousand dollars in repairs on them each ;) And we learned that up here, Nature is the boss.
Big thanks again to Sergey for being the dude and to Mountain Sky Valdez.