Breaking Boundaries: On location with Sherpas Cinema

Standing at the base of the ‘Peak Express’ on Sunday, there was a palpable atmosphere amongst the crowds awaiting their chair to the summit of Whistler. This was not only due to the 124cm of untouched powder left in the wake of a two day storm which tore through the sea-to-sky corridor, but because to lookers’ right of the queue, stood high up above the iconic two-stager ‘Air Jordan’, was Julian Carr peering over the edge of his soon-to-be launch pad.

This was the culmination of a month of filming with Sherpa’s Cinema as they wrapped up their in-bounds segment for ‘Into The Mind’.

Momme Halbe and Dave Mossop get the crane set in amongst the trees for the next shot

A month earlier, we all met at 7 45am in the Lot 8 Car Park on Blackcomb, all very excited about the prospect of what was to come - though nobody could have predicted the 28 days we had in store. Standing in the lot was the family for the next 4 weeks: the pros; the crew; and the invaluable extras who completed every shot whether it was weaving down a cat track or shredding the steeps in ruby bowl as the professionals were left to execute their lines in the background. Joined by the likes of Austin Ross, Matty Richards, Julian Carr, Izzy Lynch, Michelle Parker, Tatum Onerod, Eric Hjorleifson, James Mcskimming and Stan Rey, to name but a few (no, seriously), the quality of the segment was never in doubt. This was destined to be a banger. We, the film crew, gathered our equipment and in true ‘sherpa’ fashion were each laden with cameras, tripods and cranes as we headed for the lift, pros in tow.

The heli gets the shot as a crew of skiers shred some early morning groomers on Blackcomb

Day one set the tone for the segment; an adrenaline-fuelled furious attack on the inbound areas of Whistler Blackcomb that left the experienced on-lookers with their jaws on the floor and the athletes asking “Would you like to get another angle on that?” Mcskimming laid down the gauntlet after sending a huge laid-out 60ft backflip over a cliff that even regular Whistlerites wouldn’t have looked twice at. Flanked by Austin Ross and Matty Richards they tore their way through the Grey Zone just above the cat track that takes skiers to the Crystal Zone. The frame held the image of the recreational skiers enjoying the on-piste terrain just as much as the pros were stoked on the more technical lines less than 100m away.

After the success of ‘All I Can’, Sherpas had set the bar high to follow up the epic film, but with a creative and talented team and athletes that understood the film’s narrative, it was certainly an achievable vision. The in-bounds section is merely a chapter in their story, but one that holds a great deal of importance: whether you are the toddler having their heel wiggled into a binding for the very first time before ski school; the mum and dad trying their hand at skiing a double diamond on a pow day; the grandparents skiing blue groomers in the morning sun; or the professional hitting a 90ft backcountry booter, the feeling is the same. It is the constant that keeps everyone on a par and what makes winter sports so unique.

Air Jordan towers over onlookers on the day that Julian Carr made history by sending a 100ft frontflip over the famous double-stage cliff

As Julian backed up on the in-run atop of Air Jordan, the hundreds of onlookers in the queue where I was recording sound asked me what was about to happen. “Knowing Julian, he’s about to front flip the whole of air Jordan, but I don’t have radio contact so I don’t know when it’s going to happen” I told them. As soon as I said that, production manager, Momme Halbe, called me to say we were 2 minutes out and it was time to start recording. I told people around me to keep looking up, and the 500-strong queue waited in anticipation. Stan Rey kicked off the single-shot sequence with his first decent on Air-Jordan – a two stage cliff drop – by dropping the first 30ft to the middle section and sending a backflip to his feet off the larger, 50ft drop as about 15 extras skied the terrain to lookers’ right of the feature. The crowd were hooting and hollering at what they witnessed. And then silence for a brief second ensued as, like Icarus flying towards the sun, a silhouetted Julian Carr projected from the top tier in an out-stretched superman position, clearing the entirety of the cliff in one swoop. The noise was like nothing I’d heard before outside of a major league sport venue. The applause continued as Julian and the team made their way to the bottom of the lift and the stories of that day haven’t stopped yet.

Callum Jelly lines up his shot as dozens of skiers prepare to drop in on Spanky's Ladder

Several weeks later after every line had been slayed, and every bar had provided our come-down refreshments to each and every boundary-pushing shoot on the hill, the shooting phase was wrapped. The stressful days of running round in the sub-zero conditions trying to heli-strap counter-weights to the 18ft crane have been replaced with the stressful days of running around in the plus-thirty conditions in the office trying to deliver the story of skiing at all levels for its release in September.

My short time with Sherpas Cinema didn’t just give me an insight into the family of the Sherpas crew, but the community of the entire ski industry. This small section of a soon-to-be iconic ski-film, will re-root the essence of winter sports in the eyes of every person to have ever considered sliding on snow.

Amateur footage hints at what is to come from Sherpas' own footage of Julian Carr's massive frontflip