Photo Epic: North of Nightfall

Jun 5, 2018 at 0:36
by Brian Park  



The island is the size of Switzerland with a human population of zero, just south of the North Pole. The weather is harsh and ground is frozen for much of the year, but the soil contains gypsum that's similar to Utah's hallowed mountain bike slopes. It's an arctic desert, and there are a lot of geological anomalies that make it oddly conducive to big mountain freeriding.

We've spent a decade looking for these spots on the equator, but didn't think about going north. Darren Berrecloth has always searched for these landscapes, and he looked north. After a scouting mission to Axel Heiberg Island, and realizing it was possible, we pushed to make it happen. Since there's only a short snow-free window up there we knew we'd have to wait a year.
bigquotes24 hours of daylight removed all sense of time. We found ourselves hiking and riding and filming with flipped sleeping schedules to get the best light, but was hard not to get carried away and extend every mission. It messes with your senses, things are so surreal out there.Carson Storch
For the team we wanted a mentorship element, and we wanted the next generation too. Darren picked Carson Storch and Cam Zink picked Tom van Steenbergen to round out the team of four athletes. This wasn't a film just to progress the sport, but everyone had their own take on the terrain. Some massive moves went down, and scale of some of the lines dwarfs what has been ridden before.

We were up there for nearly a month, in a tent city ringed by an electric fence to keep the polar bears out. We packed in dehydrated food to keep things light as possible, and packed everything out—including our shit. I've never done a film that's in just one location. Telling a story that was so entrenched in a region was ambitious, especially trying to push the boundaries in a place that remote. We had a doctor with us, but everyone was keenly aware that the best case scenario for extraction was an 8-hour flight to the nearest hospital. And if weather rolled it, it could have been much longer.

Looking back, I learned so much from the experience. It's not just a freeride film. There's a glaciology angle, an ecological angle, and an arctic story. That communities have thrived in these harsh conditions is amazing. Some of the history is absolutely wild—arctic explorers ate each other up here. I think we all learned from the region, it had a huge impact on us. I'm from Canada, but I knew so little about the Canadian arctic—the Inuit, the Thule, the threats that area faces today. This isn't a "we've just scratched the surface" type of film; this opportunity was unique and we know we'll never be back. That's bittersweet, but I'm so grateful for the opportunity, and I hope people connect with the film in a way that shares what we experienced up there.


There are nearly 2000 glaciers on the island. Hiking some lines would take an hour or two depending on how slow the cameramen were. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
There are nearly 2000 glaciers on the island. Hiking some lines would take an hour or two, depending on how slow the cameramen were.

A Twin Otter with custom tundra tires was our transportation on and off the island. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
A Twin Otter with custom tundra tires was our transportation on and off the island.

Axel Heiberg Island Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

The crew slept in tents with blackout fabric to combat the 24-hour sun. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
The crew slept in tents with blackout fabric to combat the 24-hour sun.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Tom got along with the dirt super quick. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Tom got along with the dirt super quick.

Claw is the law. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
The Claw is the law.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

The scale of the lines Cam Zink rode dwarfed Rampage. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
The scale of the lines Cam Zink rode dwarfed Rampage.
This line started with a drop and continued into two minute long line of carving down a perfect grade. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Carson's line continued into two minute long descent of a perfect grade.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Early in the trip full of optimism. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Jeremy Grant, early in the trip & full of optimism.
Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

We saw wolves polar bears musk ox arctic hares amp foxes and mosquitos. Huge mosquitos. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
We saw wolves, polar bears, musk ox, arctic hares & foxes, and mosquitos. Huge mosquitos.

Although most musk ox travel in herds it s the lone males that can get aggressive and pose a problem. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Although most musk ox travel in herds, the lone males can get aggressive and pose a problem.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Insignificant specs.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Tom van Steenbergen pushed his boundaries hard out there.

Home. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Home.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Carson
Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Darren

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Tom

Apak our guide amp polar bear security guard is from Arctic Bay one of the northernmost settlements in the world. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Apak, our guide & polar bear security guard, is from Arctic Bay, one of the northernmost settlements in the world.

One of the best parts of being so remote was having time with this group minus all the technology and distractions of the real world. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
One of the best parts of being so remote was having time with this group minus all the technology and distractions of the "real" world.

There were some distractions after all... Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
There were SOME distractions...

Cam dropping into the Drag Strip. 2500 vertical feet. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Cam dropping into the "Drag Strip." 2500 vertical feet.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

 We wanted a feeling of intimacy shooting a lot of the film handheld. Jeremy Grant Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
"We wanted a feeling of intimacy, shooting a lot of the film handheld." - Jeremy Grant

There are only 4 tracks in the film so capturing natural sounds was key. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
There are only 4 tracks in the film, so capturing natural sounds was key.

Carson with a 3-drop into a long ass line. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Carson with a 3-drop into a long ass line.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Cue Symphony of Destruction. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Cue Symphony of Destruction.

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Day 25 no shampoo. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Day 25, no shampoo.

So pensive. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

 Picking the right battles on what tricks you want to do was huge out there. Keeping it simple with a can. Carson Storch Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
"Picking the right battles on what tricks you want to do was huge out there. Keeping it simple with a can." Carson Storch

Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool

Incredible landscapes in all directions. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Incredible landscapes in all directions. Once in a lifetime.

Tom amp Cam s tandem stepdown flip is one of the most iconic moments in the film. Blake Jorgenson Red Bull Content Pool
Tom & Cam's tandem stepdown flip is one of the most iconic moments in the film.






Also available on Vimeo.



34 Comments

  • + 27
 It's 2 AM but I don't think I can go to sleep until I've watched this, looks incredible
  • + 31
 It was pretty incredible
  • + 1
 @src248: wasn't freeride dead? or so they say...
  • + 9
 It’s so Epic that Specialized must change the name of their bike. Possibly most epic mtb footage ever. That cover photo of Bearclaw bearing the bike with glacier in the back is just almighty, like Laird Hamilton on Tahiti. So heavy.

Props giant props. To me that’s pushing the boundaries of the sport
  • + 2
 Truly a colossal and epic adventure. So heavy, indeed.
  • + 3
 Oh my how freeriding has progressed. It used to be hucking off the roof of a neighbors shed or wooden stunts built in the local park, now its bushplane flights to some of the most remote places on the planet, upwards of 6 figures in gear/logistics, and with exception of a few dirt jumps almost entirely natural terrain.
  • + 5
 Vimeo link for the non itunes crowd:
vimeo.com/ondemand/northofnightfall
  • + 6
 so, a slash, a sender and a maiden walk into a bar at the north pole...
  • + 3
 So a Marzocchi, a Rux and an Emerald walk into a.... Cool to see the "off-brand" forks!
  • + 5
 Absolutely Epic, and hard core too..Nice work guys..nice work.
  • + 2
 I find the straight landscape pics without riders most impressive. Berms, jumps and dirt roosting kind of take away from it all IMO
  • + 2
 Must be a bummer for Kali Darren recorded this high profile movie before he joined them. I suppose they'll want him to make another one Wink .
  • + 1
 with Rogatkin maybe??
  • + 2
 @pro-keyboardwarrior: Well yeah, but for some reason I associate Rogatkin with more all-out riding without much self preservation. You can't have that mindset if you're in the middle of nowhere and evacuating you from there is going to be a huge burden on the team and project. Now I may very well be underestimating Rogatkin. I just look at Bearclaw as that very mature and calculated rider who, well... he knows, you know?
  • + 2
 Reminds me of Landmannalaugar. Much easier to travel to Iceland than North of Canada, though!
  • + 2
 Anyone else think they should have brought Matt Hunter on this trip? Seems like he'd fit right into this landscape
  • + 2
 we need a new category for this, something complimentary to the scale of epicness
  • + 1
 thriller/drama films, that's its
  • + 2
 Awesome footage! Makes me wanna go out and hike, don’t think i am able to ride that..
  • + 2
 Too much epicness in here ! Killer shots made in a surreal place with some of the world's best riders !
  • + 1
 Incredible photos and scenery. But wow, that's a desolate god-forsaken moonscape of a place. Barely a hint of green anywhere
  • + 1
 What brakes, pads, discs, oil etc are they running to cope with those descents?!!
  • + 1
 Stoke level most high. Can't wait
  • + 1
 It was so epic, they walked back to camp in the creek to cool down!
  • + 2
 Definition of epic
  • + 0
 The photos are epic, but for some reason I had a hard time reading this writing style. Probably just me.
  • + 1
 That might be on me, transcribing while Jeremy and Carson were telling the story. Sorry!
  • + 2
 Awesome
  • + 2
 epic
  • + 2
 Wow just Wow
  • + 2
 WOW!!!!
  • + 1
 Great, thanks!
  • + 1
 Awesome
  • + 0
 Procore gnarcore

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