First Snow


First snow on Mt.Wellington this morning. It’s been a bit of whirlwind. On the surface these things seem quite simple . . .


Hey do you want to film an ascent of blade ridge in winter”? . . . “Totally (me).

Months go by and you slowly chip away at the planning. Trying to account for all potential situations. Bumps in the road appear where you least expect them. Frozen batteries, frozen lenses, unmanned aerial vehicle licensing . . .  "Do I really need to take in two pairs of boots"? . . . (Because you know that your boots are going to get soaked on the way in and they will never dry. So you want a pair of dry boots for the mountain). I’m lazy. Lazy people get cold feet I guess. Plan for the best and hope for the worst . . . wait, uhhhg no. But it's probably not a bad mantra for a filmmaker.

I guess you look at the objective, and if you know the area and what it's like, you begin to realise that even though it's something just in your backyard, the actual chances of success are quite slim. It all comes down to the weather gods.

We’ve got approximately ten days up on the mountain. We need a blizzard free day to climb the mountain via the walking route to fix ropes on the southern and northern sides - so that on the day of the climb some lucky videographers can quickly and safely ascend the mountain and rappel down the north-west face to film the climb. Then we need an absolute cracker of a day for the guys to climb the blade into the north-west face. Chances are that it will be climbable but cloudy, and we wont be able to film anything from any vantage point. Damn the gods!

Whether the climb is a success or not, it doesn’t really matter. Of course I’d love to get footage of the climbers ascending the steps of blade, silhouetted by the deep void on both sides. It's possibly one of the most striking features I’ve seen, anywhere. But I think the real magic is going to be in the small details: the journey in through the mud and up moss ridge, frozen boots, relentless porridge, lightly falling snow and maybe a glimpse of the sun and the smiles of relief.

Simon Bischoff