You've probably never heard of Onekotan, and that's OK. Why? It's a small island in the Okhotsk Sea. It used to be Japanese. Now it's Russian. Does anyone live there? Nope. It's a unique island, because on that island is a lake, and in that lake is another island, which is a volcano. Awesome. Then they skied it. Double awesome. Even more awesome? You can see the whole movie for free on Red Bull TV, from September 25 – October 25. But first, get the basics of the story, in GIF form.
The story of a volcano in a lake on an island
It's also really, really hard to get to. No one lives there. There's no spot for planes to land. The only way is by boat... and that means you've got to talk to the captain into making the 250km trip – and paying for it. (How much? Watch the movie to find out.)
The boat ride there is like this...
Not exactly where you wanna go for a ski vacation, huh? Well, for Matthias Mayr, Matthias Haunholder, and Phil Meier, it sounded like one heck of an adventure. And they'd be the first people to ever ski there.
Meet the crazy dudes who wanted to ski a volcano
So they planned. And travelled. And somehow convinced a boat to take them to the island. (More on that in the actual movie.) And somehow, they got there.
Getting ready to leave the beach at Onekotan
To ski the peak, they'd have to get to the centre of the island, climb down to the lake, cross the lake, and then climb the volcano. Not easy. So while they were expert freeskiers, even as pros, there were still a few things left to learn. Good thing they practiced swimming in ski boots.
They had to get ready to fall through ice...
Of course, once they got there, they found life on a remote island, near the Arctic Circle, in the middle of winter, wasn't so easy. First on the list? Build shelter to protect them from the non-stop wind and snow.
And they made igloos to sleep in at night
They built a base camp near the water where it was warmer, and a second camp higher up for quicker ascents toward the volcano.
Not exactly a Swiss chalet, huh, Matthias?
But finding a place to sleep wasn't the only challenge. They also had to navigate their way across uncharted land to the volcano. And it wasn't close...
It was a long hike to the lake...
And it definitely wasn't easy. Maritime climates produce a lot of snow – more than you need, sometimes.
They had to hike through really deep snow...
And even once they stopped post-holing their way up, there was long, long way to go...
And they had to keep going... and going...
And oh yeah, once you reach the lake... you've got to get across the lake.
Nope, nope, nope
That ice breaks? You go in. And it's gonna be cold.
And a little bit more nope
From there, it's just 1,000m of climbing to get to the top. But after the second try, they made the summit – and got to ski down.
Was it worth it? Definitely.
There's not many places where you can ski to the sea, and this is one of them.
Then they could ski back to the sea...
Of course, just because the mountain was skied, didn't mean the adventure was over. The guys had to get back to the mainland – and that was going to prove difficult. Especially because the boat couldn't make it.
Getting home? The struggle is real...
And there was another problem: to survive, they needed to eat. And that requires food.
No food? That's a problem
So what happens in the end? You'll have to watch the doc to find out. In the meantime, remember this...
The best turns are the ones earned
Wanna know more – like how much they paid for the boat, or how they got off the island? Tune in to Red Bull TV to watch Onekotan – The Lost Island, for free, from September 25 to October 25. And peep the trailer below.