Chances are you have never heard of Onekotan Island. That’s OK, not many people have – unless you’ve been searching for the most inaccessible place on Earth to ski.
But that's exactly what three freeskiers, Mattias Mayr, Matthias Haunholder and Phil Meier, have done in the latest Red Bull TV show, Onekotan – The Lost Island.
Onekotan is known for a few things (and none of them are its ski slopes). First, its remoteness.
Nobody’s been there in the winter, nobody’s ever skied there, there are no people living there, everyone says it’s impossible, and the more people say it’s impossible, the more motivated you get.Mattias Mayr
The next thing Onekotan is known for are its two volcanoes, situated on either end of the island – one of which is sunken into a lake, making the it extra remote for explorers.
“If you want to reach the volcano, you first have to cross the Pacific, then you have to cross the lake,” Mayr said.
Undeterred by the island’s remoteness, the three freeskiers set out to be the first people to ski Onekotan’s volcano. Obviously, this was never going to be an easy task. First, they had to negotiate a boat to take them through the Sea of Okhotsk in the North Pacific. Then, they had to set up camp on the island and settle into making the 25km journey to the volcano's summit.
The island is like being on another planet. This is something on a completely new level – so unique and unexploredMattias Mayr
The team battled extreme winds (80-100kph), fierce snowstorms (with 40-50cm of snow), and severe cold (all exposed skin freezes), all before even catching a glimpse of the volcano. Then the anticipated short hike to the volcano – a quick three-hour hike – turned into a 13-hour trek, without even reaching the volcano, as they delt with more high winds and challenging terrain.
However, the team's battle with mother nature was just the beginning. Once the group reached the volcano, their challenges were far from over. We're not going to give away the ending, but let's just say it's not easy getting home.
Nonetheless, if it were easy it wouldn’t be an exploration. Although it constantly feels like the skiers make one step forward, only to have to go three steps back, Onekotan – The Lost Island is a true adventure story. A story of pure exploration and facing uncharted territory – and that alone is something incredible in this modern age.
Inspired by these three explorers? Catch more of the Explorers series on Red Bull TV and watch incredible stories like the man who SUPed the Amazon River or the group that climbed into the heart of the Earth.