Mountain Biking on a Glacier: #theunRealmovie

Mar 31, 2015
by Anthill Films  
Views: 37,011    Faves: 227    Comments: 10

Words: Cam McCaul

Early last summer I had an unUsual email come across my inbox. It read something like this: “Hey Cam, we’re actually going to try to do that crazy glacier idea for unReal. We’ll be camping up there for 2 weeks and trying to find some rideable snow and ice. It will probably be a big challenge, are you into it...?” I have a tendency of getting way too excited when I see an email like this and I immediately replied back something like, “Hell yeah let's do this!” After hitting send, I had a moment where I thought, “Oh man... what in the world did I just get myself into!

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

As we got deeper into the planning stages, I got a feeling of how challenging this was going to be when more emails showed up saying things like, “Make sure you remember all of your tools because there are no bike shops on this glacier.” And… “Make sure you pack really light because everything we bring will have to be helicoptered to our camp site.” In rough translation: pack as close to nothing as you can with still making sure you have absolutely everything.

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

With the ambitious nature of this film concept, each segment idea had to be something that barely seemed possible on paper before it would make the cut. Some of the ideas I heard during the conceptual stages ranged from ridiculously awesome (but difficult) to ridiculously ridiculous and probably wouldn’t work (but awesome nonetheless). The glacier idea was probably more on the ridiculously ridiculous side of the spectrum, so in reality, I just assumed it would be one of the ideas that got cut. The thing I forgot to consider was “reality” isn’t something that would be paid much attention to during the making of a film called, “unReal.” Next thing I knew we were saying goodbye to civilization and dry land to go live on a gigantic, slowly moving, frozen river of ancient ice.

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

We basically set up our own little alpine shantytown, and once we had a place to live, the main objective for the rest of the trip was to stay alive. On a normal mountain bike shoot, you hop on a dirt bike or a quad to go explore your zones and find something awesome to build and ride. We were planning to take this same approach up on the glacier. But the only problem was, we had zero knowledge of the environment we were in and the likelihood of us falling into a crevasse was pretty high. I was expecting the riding to be the dangerous part, but just walking around up there was gnarly! Luckily we had an awesome guide named Mac who, unlike us, knew what he was doing and could keep us from getting swallowed into the depths of the icy earth.

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.
Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

Being on a wild shoot like this with a couple dudes like Aggy and Doerfling is about as good as it gets. No matter what terrain they find themselves in, they have the balls to go for it and the skills to make it work. We had a lot of adapting to do on this shoot, and there was quite the learning curve. Looking back, I can’t believe how well it actually worked. One thing you will never experience on a normal mountain bike shoot is having the jumps that you spent hours and hours building just melt away into thin air! We used some great building techniques to shape the snow and firm it up with salt, but we had to shoot all the jumps as soon as possible because they just might not be there the next day. I had originally thought that we would be mostly sticking to riding snow, but as the glacier continued to melt away right under our feet more and more each day, we realized that drilling screws through our tires and riding on steep ice faces was almost the most efficient and awesome way to tame this beast.

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

This trip showed us how truly versatile the mountain bike is. It seems absolutely ridiculous to attempt shooting a mountain bike segment on a glacier, but you never know until you try and who knew it would have worked out so well. I can’t wait for another strange email to show up from Anthill and TGR so I can stupidly accept the challenge once again!

Pemberton Ice cap British Columbia in July 2014. Sterling Lorence Photo.

Sony presents unReal with Shimano & Trek, a new film produced by Teton Gravity Research & Anthill Films starring Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Graham Agassiz, Steve Smith, Tom van Steenbergen & Thomas Vanderham, with Brook Macdonald, Finn Isles, Ian Morrison, James Doerfling & Matty Miles. Written, directed and edited by Anthill Films. Art direction and additional writing by Good Fortune Collective. Additional support from Bike Magazine, EvocPinkbike.comRocky MountainWestern Digital & Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

To get the latest episodes of Mind the Gap, subscribe to the Teton Gravity Research and Anthill Films YouTube Channels.

Photos: Sterling Lorence / @eyeroam

MENTIONS @anthill @TetonGravityResearch @sterlinglorence @jim77 @shimano @trek @WhistlerMountainBikePark @evocsports @pinkbikeaudience

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  • 112 1
 Huck to flat if I ever seen one. Aggys a beast.
  • 7 1
 Yea man, and he took it like a champ!
  • 27 1
 That poor glacier.
  • 4 1
 Huck of the year!!
  • 6 21
flag hamncheez (Mar 31, 2015 at 10:48) (Below Threshold)
 So, was ditching the bike the best idea, or should he have tried to ride it out?
  • 18 1
 Ditching the bike was the best idea
  • 10 0
 ...why being the "test pilot" is always the most nerve-racking part of building stuff...
  • 4 1
 It looks calculating speed on the snow is nothing to do on earth ground.... Look what happen to Gee too some years ago.... Please don t forgot...
  • 1 0
 Did he hit it again? Or was he concussed?
  • 46 2
 What in the hell are his legs made of!? Adamantium??

He hits the ground so freaking hard.
  • 11 2
 Wolverine is Canadian. But Kona needs Adamantium frames
  • 4 6
 Yes. Thank you for that. As is Graham, thats why I made the referance.

By the way.... a Kona Frame joke? Really? Grow up
  • 2 1
 On point considering Aggy breaks an Operator frame every month in summer...
  • 1 0
 Never in the spring or fall though hey? Lol

Any bike that can Guinea Pig a 70 foot drop will be alright for the rest of us.
  • 48 22
 Oh no, the fuel from the helicopter and snow scooters contributed to faster melting of the glacier

  • 4 1
 I'm heading to Oslo for a few days in July, wanna share a bear and tales of internet trolling?
  • 14 0
 im not sure what sharing a bear entails but count me out!
  • 18 2
 I may be going to Hafjell in early July, it's only 2,5h drive from Oslo so you should totaly go. But if you want to drop into Gothenburg which is 4h drive south I can show you some trail gold and lend you a bike. I am generally immobilized due having small kids. Russthedog - Having a bear is sharing a relatively big woman with exceptionally hairy beaver. It's viking language, that Brits know very well.
  • 3 1
 ...Pretty sure the outreach of this video and the exposure it will get will cause a greater appreciation for landscapes like this by many people who never thought twice about them; hence, motivating others to make more efforts to preserve the awesome nature of our planet.
  • 3 1
 Waki - count me in!
  • 2 1
 @russthedog I call shotgun on the back.
  • 4 3
 Go visit a glacier Waki. Learn about them. I'm betting you have done neither considering your sarcastic comments.
  • 2 4
 What?! That is an interesting take on it, I've been on and inside a glacier, can you please explain me what is it that I have obviously missed that is so relevant?
  • 3 2
 You don't need to make jokes about global warming. Even if you don't believe in it. You know that glacier you visited is (most likely) disappearing at a alarming rate. And what is left of them is going to be riddled with some form of human bodily fluids. Don't you want your kids to have the same experience of visiting that glacier as you did?
  • 8 0
 DUDE.... you don't want to start this
  • 6 4
 Mmm Sithbike - I do believe humans cause increase of overall temperature of the planet, but I don't know how joking about it makes them melt faster? But just to put it clear for you, I don't give a tiniest damn if my kids will see the same glacier or not, tourism is a smallest thing to worry about when it comes to glacier melting which... you can't stop no matter how much you talk, worry or feel guilty about it. Just do your stuff and wait for your turn to go, when it happens go with some dignity.

If you want to save the Planet start killing people now, there's billions to go. No matter what you do though, in 100k years humanity will be remembered as a highly developed life form which killed itsekf and all that remains from it is a film thin layer of dirt in ice sheet
  • 7 4
 Not sure if my kids will suffer from atrocities caused by food shortage and gigantic migrations, but I am affraid my grand children will. I just hope that in less than 20 years I will be able to buy a farm, guns and will learn to shoot animals and humans. That's my way of dealing with climate change and the inevitable, the more people chose pacifist, hippie, couch activism, green peace bladi bla, the better chance my family has, as they will be easier to kill in case they will try to get us.

So The more people disagree the happier I am Big Grin fir now, I love this movie!
  • 1 1
 nothing is forever
  • 26 1
 I think that aggy wants to work for NASA, that was insane!
  • 23 1
 Wow. I think that was the biggest overshoot I have EVER seen! One tough bastard.
  • 19 3
 Gloveless and T-shirts on the glacier. The canadians have arrived Big Grin
  • 15 0
 Watching that landing go by under you must be a nasty feeling
  • 7 0
 So I thinking buzzing ya rear tyre with spikes would ruin your day. Hahaha Hanging for this to drop already.
  • 7 1
 those raw footage in the beggining somewhat like in life cycles are just amazing, whatever you post there just looks stunning.
  • 5 0
 "We brought all our gear to the glacier" - brings beer tap. My moms always complaining about this sport, but I must say, we got some of the raddest people involved in extreme sports!
  • 9 5
 i just hate riding my bike on snow... i feel so sketchy on!!
AGGY: ''i had no was a bad idea'' those guys are just insane!!!!
  • 1 1
 no braked not no brakes hes not stupid
  • 3 0
 yep sorry bud...
  • 2 2
 haha Canadians are so nice im not even sure why you apologised Smile
  • 3 2
 maybe cause im french!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Long live the full-length feature!!!! I'm so stoked for this.

Dang Aggy bruh! That weren't no 5' of soft pow, that shit's prob damn near hard as dirt!

I don't understand the 2nd last pic. :s I hope there's a clip of that in the movie.
  • 5 1
 They had a keg on a glacier. That's bad ass.
  • 2 1
 cam in the article said he was told to bring next to nothing for the trip since everything had to be helicoptered in, i guess they had to make room for the essentials like beer!
  • 2 2
 Well the beer is essential.
  • 1 1
 Yeah that was my point...Not much else to do up there i would imagine.
  • 4 1
 I live in wa. Been to many glaciers. Yup, not much to do but drink beer, smoke a little bud and enjoy the scenery.
  • 2 0
 They got the right guys for this for sure. can't wait to see footage of Doerfling tearing it up.
  • 2 0
 All I could think when they all started saluting with beers was "what's a camping trip without beer" from without a paddle
  • 3 1
 how did they do that to their tyres? I'm so confused lol
  • 3 0
 drill holes and put in screws then cover the screw heads on the inside of the tire with duct tape or something or just use one of those thick tubes.
  • 1 0
 Or run tubeless
  • 1 0
 Well its winter so you want to be running really high psi in order for the screws to actually dig into the ground so tubeless really has no benefits for spike tire riding
  • 1 0
 No no thats not what I was getting at. Instead of running thick tubes or putting duct tap in the tire to protect the tube just go tubeless then its worry free.
  • 2 0
 Ditch the bikes ... buy a sledge ..
  • 2 1
 Nice shooting, nice cameras, sick edit
  • 1 0
 That vertical horizontal ice wall tho
  • 2 0
 Gas to flat!
  • 1 0
 Ah man that overshoot reminds me of bad dreams!
  • 1 0
 Looks like a party
  • 1 0
 Well this looked cool.
  • 1 0
 Can't wait for this
  • 1 0
 What an absolute tank
  • 2 2
 best overshoot of the year: AGGY!
  • 1 0
 @limo so damn sick
  • 2 2
  • 1 1
 WOW, awesome
  • 6 7
 what no fatbikes??? thats ghey
  • 1 0
 Guess they must've wanted to have fun instead.
  • 1 1
  • 3 5
  • 1 3
 This look unreal...
  • 1 4
 Very cool guys, but remember, safety first.
  • 1 1
 they don't know that word
  • 1 3
 Unreal &
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