Take a Volcano Skiing Adventure on a Lost Island

You need to see the ski doc about an 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, and 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 some hearty souls ventured out and skied it. Double awesome. Even more awesome? You can see the whole film of their adventure for free on Red Bull TV from Sept. 25 to Oct. 25.

But first, get the basics of the story here, in GIF form.

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

The story of a volcano in a lake on an island

It's 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 the captain into making the 155-mile trip — and pay for it. (How much? Watch the movie to find out.)

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

The boat ride there is like this

Not exactly where you want to go for a ski vacation, huh? Well, for Matthias Mayr, Matthias Haunholder and Phil Meier, it sounded like one heck of an adventure. Not to mention they'd be the first people to ever ski there.

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

Meet the crazy dudes who wanted to ski a volcano

So they planned. And traveled. And somehow convinced a boat captain to take them to the island. And somehow, they got there.

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

Getting ready to leave the beach at Onekotan

To ski the peak, they'd have to get to the center 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.

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

They had to get ready to fall through ice

Of course, once they got there they found that 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 nonstop wind and snow.

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

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 your standard slippers
Cold and wet at night © Onekotan - The Lost Island

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.

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

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.

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

They had to hike through really deep snow

And even once they stopped post-holing their way up, there was still a long, long way to go ...

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

And they had to keep going — and going

And oh yeah, once you reach the lake, you have to get across the lake.

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

Nope, nope, nope

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

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

And a little more nope

From there, it's over 3,250 feet of climbing to get to the top. But after the second try, they made the summit and got to ski down.

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

Was it worth it? Definitely

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


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

Worth it

There are not many places where you can ski to the sea.

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

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.

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

Getting home? The struggle is real

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

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

No food? That's a problem

So what happens in the end? You'll have to watch the documentary to find out. In the meantime, remember this ...

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

The best turns are the ones earned

Want to 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 Sept. 25 to Oct. 25. (Watch the trailer below.)

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