These guys went to a lost island to ski a volcano

You need to see this ski doc about a island off of Russia. But first tease yourself with these GIFs.
The island of Onekotan
The island with a lake with a volcano © NASA
By Josh Sampiero

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

The goal lies far off in the distance
Waves crash over the boat-drone-summit-shot © Onekotan - The Lost 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...

Waves crashing over the bow of the boat
Waves crash over the boat © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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

Matthias Mayr, Matthias Haunholder, Phil Meier © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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

Not your standard slippers
Sand and ski boots? A rare mixture © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...

Not an easy hole to dig out of © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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

Home is where the snow is
Building an igloo © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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?

Not your standard slippers
Cold and wet at night © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...

One ski in front of the other
There's a long way to go © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...

Cold, difficult and unpleasant
Slow going in the snow © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...

Just gotta walk as far as you can see
Snow stretches out in the distance © Onekotan - The Lost Island

And oh yeah, once you reach the lake... you've got to get across the lake.

Nope, nope, nope

Not exactly on-piste
Walk this way.... really © Onekotan - The Lost Island

That ice breaks? You go in. And it's gonna be cold.

And a little bit more nope

Sketchy, sketchy skiing
You wanna ski over this? We don't © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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.

Not exactly on-piste
Point 'em and send 'em © Onekotan - The Lost Island


If you fall, you're gonna get wet
Catching some air in Onekotan © Onekotan - The Lost Island

Worth it.

If you fall, you're gonna get wet
Skiing over the sea © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...

Ski that line till infinity!
Again, and again... © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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...


That's the face of exhaustion
We're going to run out of food © Onekotan - The Lost Island

And there was another problem: to survive, they needed to eat. And that requires food.

No food? That's a problem

That's the face of exhaustion
We need to get off this island, now © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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

Ski that line till infinity!
Swerving down to the sea © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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.

The trailer for Onekotan - the lost island

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