Tag Archives: Powder

  • Here☻eye yam

    What drives us to be skiers?

    To continually risk our health, for what reward?

    If you think it's money you're looking at the wrong sport.

    Powder days, new tricks, podiums, big lines and new spots, that's what keeps us going.

    We crash on couches, borrow money, stay in airports and return favours.

    And we often think we're the first generation to live this until we learn our freeski history.

    So, what do you look forward to?

    Sights like this help

     

    Or powder turns with the friends

     

    Finding places like this is key too

     

    And getting turns like this

     

    Seeing this out the window sooths my soul

     

    Especially when I know it means this is coming up

     

    Working for it makes you appreciate it more

     

    And enjoy the places you end up

     

    I guess home is where the heart is, or the snow

     

    But really, at the end of the day, sharing the love, with the crew. I guess you don't have to know someone so well to be friends with them if you ski together.
    All the good photos in this blog are by Tove Kockum, the rest are by me 
  • Neil's back to the Bruck!

    I recently got back to Innsbruck for the season and it's been a cool welcome, just the way I like it! I'll like the images do the talking, check them out below

    We had to fit 2 bikes, 2 ski bags and 2 other bags into a train, then a plane, then a bus but it turned out that fitting them and us into Lukas' car for the last 2km was the toughest part

     

    Good to be rolling around Innsbruck again. Photo by Pete Oswald

     

    And back on the mountains!

     

    Lucky to know locals like Lukas and their secret spots, he's even breaking the trail out for us. Photo by Pete Oswald

     

    Storm riding at Stubai glacier with the Whiteroom Productions crew!

     

    Body shot in the new suit once the weather cleared up

     

    Drop, grab and selfie, showing off the new threads. Stoked on the new gears, taking the Eagle Surftex jacket on a test flight

     

    Much more to come, this is only from the first few days skiing! We'll start filming for the El Flamingo webisodes and the next Whiteroom Production movie soon so stay tuned for updates of radness.

  • Trial and Eroor, our new ski movie and how you can get it!

    So stoked that our full movie just dropped, get it here, just click on the link below!

    Click meeeeeeeeee
  • What filming for a ski movie is like

    When I watched ski movies growing up I always thought that it was some kind of magic. I thought that the guys and girls featured in them got magically transported to the sunniest spots with the best snow, a really talented filmer/editor and then stomped everything first time without fear or hesitance. Turns out it's not like that, a lot of luck and hard work have to come together to turn all the effort of getting there and timing it right into a usable shot. Only one thing needs to go wrong with the skiing, filming, snow conditions, timing, weather or light for the shot to be demoted to B roll status, where hopefully something about it will be funny and then it can roll with the credits. I know that this is a bit of a typical rant and I will end it with the sterotypical 'but getting the shot makes it all worthwhile' line, but I guess I'm writing it for people that ever wondered what actually goes on behind the scenes of ski movies, 'cause it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. So let me tell you a story about the last film trip of the year that I went on, to film for Whiteroom Productions next movie with Raphi Webhofer and filmer Jonas Abenstein.

    Myself and Jonas watching the sunset from the top of the camper, photo by Raphi, check out his athlete page- Raphael Webhofer on facebook

     

    So we were meant to be flying to Norway for a week of touring and a bit of heli time, but just before we were meant to go the weather forecast told us that it was going to be snowing for pretty much every day that we would be there. So last minute we grabbed the Whiteroom Productions camper van and headed over the border to St Moritz and the Engadin Valley. Raphi and I had already been there on separate trips during the season, but since they had had the biggest total snowfall in over 50 years and had mainly sun in the forecast for the next week it was an opportunity not to poke a ski stick at. The photo above is of us checking out the sunset on the first night after scoping some lines, glad that we had made the difficult call not to chase the expensive dragon to Norway. The photo below is the line that we had found and decided to ski together- an exposed shelf finishing in a compulsory air, that turned out to be bigger than it had looked through our binoculars, and with a rockier take-off and landing.

    The intimidating but enticing line down the central shelf

     

    What it looked like from the top in the sunset

     

    Looking back at Raphi to tell him I think it's on

     

    Tight turns in the steep sluff

     

    The long, rocky air out. With a bit of roll in and an ollie I made this, just, but Raphi got unlucky and clipped a rock on landing, tumbled and lost a pole (permanently). It was quite a contrast to the smaller lines we had been skiing earlier that day where I had been kooking it and he had been stomping stylish tricks

     

    I've seen Raphi more stoked than at this moment, the variable snow above the exposure led him to say it was one of the stupidest things he had ever done

     

    So where to from here? I wanted to ski more faces because I'm not as good at tricks as Raphi and he had been getting better shots than me. We met up with local friend Lukas Swieykowski to check out some new zones and I found a line that I have to ski one day, full on life goal. The light had run out by the time I saw it, but it will still be there next year.

    Dream line from the top left shoulder to the central compulsory air, watch out for it next year

     

    Lukas put us up for a couple of days while he was showing us around, thanks buddy! We found this zone with him too, and salivated, all picking different lines off the bat.

    Lukas' line on the right, mine in the middle and Raphi's on the left. The star is where the variable snow caught his edge and the dotted lines are where he tumbled to where he stopped at the circle, and had to cling to a rock for half an hour with a broken hip till the heli could pluck him.

     

    The rescue heli plucking Raphi off the face, you can see him dangling below it in the rotor wash, heavy day.

     

    Thanks Spiderman

     

    After a short heli trip for Raphi and a long drive in the camper for Jonas and I we got to gape at this in the Swiss hospital, check out what's going on with his hip bone in the top left of the x-ray

     

    This is Raphi looking over the other side from the peak before he dropped in, with good times in the minds eye. We didn't know he would be taking a heli home, how could we? I was thinking about that the other day when I posted this pic on the instabook- check it out on @neilwilliman or FB/Neil Williman Skiing Human, and I got a bit carried away with the caption, trying to capture the ups and downs of filming, what we give for skiing, what it gives back and what it takes away. I guess it was a big part of why I took a summer off, instead of going home to NZ for winter, a bit more time to pull my thoughts back to goals and stoke. And write this to try and explain why this photo means what to me. Below is the original captionessay, maybe it will mean a bit more now if you've read this through or at least glanced at the images.

     

    My good ski buddy @raphaelwebhofer on top of a peak we toured near St Moritz in April, and on a better day this caption would've read something cheesy like 'the days we ski for'. We'd been living in a camper for a week looking for lines to film for #whiteroomproductions before finally finding this zone, but the variable snow sent Raphi to hospital with a broken hip after a scary fall. Shaken after helping the medics load him pale but smiling into the heli I was left contemplating what rewards we were looking for in return for these risks, and how I'll feel next time I stand on top of a serious line. Midsummer has been and gone since then without a conclusion reached, other than that the goddess of snow can be a feisty and unreasonable mistress, and it is something in that renders me helpless- unable not to heed her call when she beckons.

  • Published as

    Here are a couple of magazine articles that got published recently, I got an interview in the Chill magazine about my season on the FWT, with photos by Tom Platts, Mickey Troja and Martin Erd, as well as an article that Tove Kockum and I wrote about our trip to South America last season, it'll be getting published online soon too! Grab a copy of the magazines of a ski selling shelf near you to check them out in full.

     

    An interview with me in the Chill magazine (NZ)
    An interview with me in the Chill magazine

     

    The article in NZSkier magazine about the trip Tove Kockum and I took to South America, coming out online soon to a website near you
    The article in NZSkier magazine about the trip Tove Kockum and I took to South America, coming out online soon to a website near you.
  • A few pictures instead of a few thousand words

    I wanted to sum up the last couple of months succinctly, and looking through the photos I was planning to put in here I realised that they tell the story pretty well themselves....

    Back to Chamonix! My first European ski home

     

    The Chamonix competition venue. I skied fall line from the start point even though I had a bruised ankle bone and the flu, still managed to come 10th!

     

    Film trip to east Tirol, lot of snow there!

     

    Dropping in at the competition in Axamer Lizum

     

    Flipping my last air in the Axamer Lizum competition, this photo was all over the German and Austrian media!

     

    Was great to win the competition at Axams since it's my adopted home resort here in Austria, thanks Pete and Tom for bringing the NZ flag!

     

    The next comp was also local, on the same venue as the FWT was, but I managed to backflip one of the biggest cliffs this time!

     

    Really happy to land this one

     

    I came 2nd and won best trick

     

    On top a my line on the film trip to Switzerland

     

    Skiing my line, I skied fall line from here onto the shelf with the compulsory air into the opening fan, photo by Mickey Troja/Whiteroom Productions

     

    Back to Austria for another comp, but the snow was melting fast so we had to get creative

     

    I had a good time skiing that line

     

    Back to Switzerland for filming this mouth watering face

     

    Unfortunately this is how it finished though, my friend Raphy broke the crest of his pelvis in a fall and had to get helicoptered out. Thanks to our local friend Lukas for all his help!

     

    Since then we've been enjoying spring park jibbing in the sun :)
  • How I Have Fun Skiing - Neil Williman 2013

     

    So Whiteroom Productions has generously let me use the footage from filming with them last season in combination with shots that I got myself and with friends to release a Best of 2013 edit online! It's really good of them since the movie is still touring and won't be released on the internet until Spring (when it will be free!).

    But here is my take on how much fun I can have on skis with my friends, compressed into 2 minutes something. One of the things I'm most proud of about this edit is that I also competed a lot during that season and qualified for the Freeride World Tour, but none of these shots are from competitions!

    Best viewed in full-screen at at least 480p quality (full screen and quality control buttons are at the bottom right of the video, and full screen must be selected first). I hope you enjoy watching as much as I enjoyed making it.

  • What the Freeride World Tour involves me in

    After leaving Canada (where the 1st FWT stop was postponed until March) I got back to Sweden, bought a car with my girlfriend Tove and drove down to Austria. The car broke down 30km short of our destination of Innsbruck, which is good luck or bad luck depending on how you look at things :)

    Once we got down we got about skiing as much as possible as soon as possible. Luckily we were staying with friends in Götzens who lived at the bottom of one of the only local resorts with good snow- we had some great days at Axamer Lizum. Here are some of our favourite pics.

    Me hiking to the goods, photo by Tove

     

    Like the caption to the right says I'm stoked on this place!

     

    Tove making the most of the backcountry run home in the sunset light, photo by me

     

    After this I went and backflipped this cliff too, check out the video here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=788802437802768&id=559721950710819&_rdr

     

     

     

    We got to go filming in South Tirol (Italy) with Whiteroom Productions for a day too, it was really deep!

     

    South Tirol is a primarily German speaking part of Italy, since it got taken from Austria after WW1. More importantly they get a lot of snow. Here's some of it in my face.

     

    So I was feeling pretty good after all this skiing, strong and confident. Off to Courmayeur, Italy for the first stop of the Freeride World Tour next, since the first FWT stop in Revelstoke was postponed till March.

    Picking up my bib on stage, number 18 out of 50 (skiers and snowboarders) says my name too!

     

    Signing autographs for the surprising amount of public

     

    Myself, Charlie and Ruari (team kiwi) standing in front of the venue after the clouds came in and postponed the competition until Wednesday the 22nd of Jan. Lucky that the bib matches my Surfanic 'Hunter' Jacket :)

     

    Checking out the venue for the competition tomorrow (Weds 22nd Jan). You can watch the live stream on freerideworldtour.com it starts about 9:30am Italian time and I'm dropping bib 18 so probably about 11:00, check it out!

     

    So yep first competition here in Courmayeur, Italy tomorrow and then probably Chamonix, France on Saturday, wish me luck :)

     

     

     

  • The times, they are a changing

    So the first Freeride World Tour stop of the season was meant to be in Revelstoke, Canada but it has been postponed till March 10 due to lack of snow, for more info check out this link> http://freerideworldtour.com/news-detail/items/revelstoke-rescheduled-to-march-10-2014.html

    So here is a little photo journal of my travels from Austria to Sweden to New Zealand on the way here to Canada to keep you entertained. Oldest to newest and captions to explain them, enjoy!

     

     

     

     

     

    The NZ premier of 'For a Few Lines More', surrounded by my friends and the NZ freeski scene, like my good buddy and one of the filmers for this movie by my side Pete Oswald. Big ups to Fischer Skis New Zealand for the 2 pairs of skis that we gave away, Winnie Bagoes Ferrymead for donating a keg, Licence to Chill for the publicity and donating all ticketing proceeds to charity and Snowride Sports for mounting the winners skis, and mine!

     

     

     

    Touring in the Whistler backcountry, my hair turned Chameleon, thanks for the pic Matt Francisty and thanks for the sweet new coat Surfanic

     

  • So far. So good.

    Roads are not the best feature of South America so the driving time of 38 hours is grossly underestimated

     

    Words by me, photos by everyone in the blog.

    As many of the events in my life seem to go, this was an unplanned, super lucky, sometimes stressful but very eventful week- an 8 day roadtrip from Bariloche, Argentina and back. Up the Argentinean side of the Andes and down the Chilean side with aplenty closed passes, long colouirs, touring volcanoes and getting lost in beautiful backwater farming villages, where learning Spanish on the fly was the only way to get directions out.

    How did it start? We met 4 friendly Americans in Bariloche and they just happened to want to go to Portillo, Chile the same as us- where another friend of mine Andrew Rumph had recommended us to come visit him. Turned out they had already looked into renting a car and two more was not a crowd, so not long after we were departing in a mighty 7 seat Kangoo, with skis packed inside and outside the roof as taught to me by Austrian Kangoo master Fabian Lentsch, thanks buddy. It was a long overnight drive to Mendoza but my turn to drive came just in time to catch one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen, complete with a full moon and wild Argentinean countryside.

    3 of our new American friends Harris, Dan and Max dealing well with the indoor skis
    3 of our new American friends Harris, Dan and Max dealing well with the indoor skis

     

    Thanks big sign
    Thanks big sign

     

    Earlier on there was a full moon in the shot too, phonetoe just couldn't do it justice
    Earlier on there was a full moon in the shot too, phonetoe just couldn't do it justice, photo by me

     

    As one makes the pilgrimage from the Los Pampas province of Argentina to that of Los Andes Mendoza is the gateway city between the plains and the mountains. An old and beautiful city of award winning architecture it has a large Chilean population due to its proximity to the border, meaning that our arrival on the 19th of September was high on festivities and low on vacancies- it was Chile’s national day. The hostel that we managed to find space for all 6 of us (in different rooms) was near to a city park, a park filled with music, dancing, flags and of course several large farms worth of ‘carne’. It seems the Chileans place meat at the bottom of the food pyramid as much as Argentineans, as in 5 plus a day, which may be why the local Argentines seemed fine with the celebrations that were the equivalent of a Canada day party in the USA.

    Tove stoking out on the Chilean national day celebrations
    Tove stoking out on the Chilean national day celebrations complete with a meat street

     

    Street art in Mendoza
    Street art in Mendoza

     

    The next day we planned to cross into Chile by one of the few passes through the Andes, bound for Portillo ski resort, which is pretty much a hotel with ski lifts located just on the Chilean side of the pass. But as we prepared to leave the hostel the friendly receptionist found out that the pass was closed due to heavy snowfall! Being mid September (which is Spring to all you Northern Hemisphere-ies) and only a week before the resort shut down for the season this was a shock in more ways than one- suddenly there was epic pow at our destination, but we couldn’t get to it. The options were few, it would’ve taken over 35 hours to get to Portillo by either of the other closest two passes, and so we drove up to the border town of Uspallata to line up with the stranded Chilean families, play tag in the gravel, cross our fingers and twiddle our thumbs. The news was bad the first morning- it was Saturday and they said the pass would be closed until Monday. Gutted and plan-less we returned to the hostel that we had arrived at late the night before to reconsider our options, or lack thereof. As we sat down for a mate (Argentinean caffeinated tea) one of the border workers came in to see his friend that worked there and told us that it would actually open Sunday morning. Stoking out that we hadn’t immediately begun driving for one of the other passes we made the most of our free day by going horse riding. Argentinean style there was no safety briefing- the local gaucho simply asked in Spanish if we had any experience, though whichever answer we gave was simply acknowledged with a curt nod and no further instructions.

    Looking towards the storm over Portillo pass from Uspallata
    Looking towards the storm over Portillo pass from Uspallata

     

    Tove and I saddling up
    Tove and I saddling up with the local gaucho

     

    Looking back across the plateau to the Argentinean side of the Andes
    Looking back across the plateau to the Argentinean side of the Andes

     

    The next morning we up and at ‘em early, arriving in the first queue of cars (that grew to 6 lanes), waiting for the hooter from the road control workers to begin attacking the road to the pass in a fashion similar to the intro of the Flintstones. When the time came we were quick off the mark but eventually passed by many due to our seemingly uncommon lack of desire to drive on the wrong side of the road around blind corners. The border itself brought further challenges as one of our American friends had overstayed his visa in Argentina. He seemed pretty un-phased in my eyes since I’ve had a friend get a 10 year ban from the USA for the same thing and when they dropped the bomb that it was a 30,000 peso fine I thought that things were about to get serious. Turns out that 30,000 Chilean peso is only $70 NZD (€45), not the $7000 NZD that it would’ve been if we were talking Argentinean peso. Sprits instantly rose as we were through the last of the barriers separating us from Portillo and epic untouched powder, and it turned out that none of the other cars in the queue were on their way to the ski resort!

    Max enjoying the queue with a view from the back of the Kangoo
    Max enjoying the queue with a view from the back of the Kangoo

     

    The crew standing in front of the face that we would later hike the colouir on the left side of. Dan, Davis, Harris, Tove, me and Max
    The crew standing in front of the face that we would later hike the colouir on the left side of. Dan, Davis, Harris, Tove, me and Max

     

    As we had been waiting in the long single file for the border I had been eyeing the mountains around us in awe and wishing that we could ski them, they were huge and steep and I immediately understood how difficult it would be to keep this pass open in a storm. One epic looking face appeared to have avalanche debris at the bottom, but no evidence of a slide above it. As we drew closer though we realised that the ‘debris’ were ski tracks, it was Portillo! The lift had been difficult to see because it is a ‘slingshot’ instead of a chairlift, which is like a cross between a cable car and a T-bar. There are two bars hanging from the cables, each of which has 5 poma attached to it (shafts with button shaped ends to ‘sit’ on), and the poma bars and at opposite ends of the cable, meaning that as one goes up the other is coming down. These are almost apologetically placed in the heart of the intimidating Andes range as if in an attempt not to offend it, and since the majority of ski-able faces are at the bottom of potential avalanche paths it seems that this design is also to facilitate ease of transport if necessary, or at least less expensive replacement. There is a chairlift as well though and we gravitated to it immediately after arriving just in time for a half day ticket. There was an unskied chute directly under the chair that finished with a mandatory air, it was love at first run. I found out afterwards that it was a permanently closed area but the forgiveness that I didn’t have to beg was far easier than the permission that I didn’t ask. I met up with my American instructor friend Andrew Rumph and he showed us around to more epic spots, and took me shooting with his pro photog friend- who turned out to be the photographer for the USA ski team that were training there. We skied without a break until the lifts closed at 5pm, one of the best days of the season.

    The view from the hotel at Portillo and my local instructor buddy Andrew Rumph sending a cliff that I backflipped while shooting with photographer friend
    The view from the hotel at Portillo and my local instructor buddy Andrew Rumph sending a cliff that I backflipped while shooting with his photographer friend, hopefully it will get run in a magazine or similar

     

    An unfortunately overexposed GoPro framegrab of backflipping the cliff with the hotel in the background
    An unfortunately overexposed GoPro framegrab of backflipping the cliff with the hotel in the background

     

    Max having trouble with his first go at the 'slingshot' lift
    Max having trouble with his first go at the 'slingshot' lift

     

    Tove getting some airtime above the lake
    Tove getting some airtime above the lake

     

    We got a couple more shots with Andrew's friend Jonathan, who I found out afterwards is the photographer for the US ski racing team and the first guy to get a racing shot on the cover of Powder magazine! So I'm hoping to see them published somewhere in the future.

    Portillo is one of the most beautiful and scenic resorts I have even had the visited, and the grandeous hotel at the base made full use of the view with huge windows and an outdoor swimming pool and hot tubs. It was from these tubs that Andrew peeled a finger off his cold beer and pointed out ‘Super C’, a 1200 vertical metre colouir that was a slingshot ride and a ridge hike away. It barely ever saw the sun and the recent snowfall had loaded it with deep, well bonded snow. We had originally been planning to spend 3 days in Portillo, which the pass closure had reduced by one, and Super C seemed like the obvious option for our second and final day there, so the beers were cheers’d to it and the thighs given a nervous rub of steep&deep hiking anticipation. We had met one of Andrew’s friends Jake skiing the day before, who worked reception at the hotel, and he joined the team for the morning mission as the only member to have made the hike before. It was good that he did as we valued the extra pair of legs, it took about 4 hours of straight bookpacking to slog up the steep face of knee to thigh deep snow and we were all exhausted at the top. Tove had tweaked her knee in the heavier snow of the late afternoon the day before and made the tough call not to come. With impressive views of Aconcagua (the highest mountain in South America) and mild altitude nausea on my part we readied ourselves to drop in for one of the longest continuous pow runs of my life, past and future. It was amazing and steep and deep and it kept on going and going and going. There were hoots, hollers, hugs and blatant disregard for getting as much footage as it deserved, this was a time to ski for ourselves, runs like this don’t happen every season. I found out later that Chris Davenport had previously visited Portillo for 2 weeks and hiked Super C 9 times, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised. After we left Andrew and Jack used our bootpack to get up there twice more during closing week, and I’m glad to have been able to leave that behind for them in return for the local knowledge of it being there. Thanks again guys.

    The face that we hiked to drop over the back and get to Super C colouir
    The face that we hiked to drop over the back and get to Super C colouir

     

    The long sweaty bootpack
    The long sweaty bootpack

     

    Nearing the top of the face
    Nearing the top of the face, we are the 4 dots in the middle of the photo

     

    A view of Aconcagua, South America's highest mountain
    A view of Aconcagua, South America's highest mountain. It isn't a volcano but was long believed to be due to this lens cloud that often forms at its peak

     

    Harris, Jake, Davis and myself at the top
    Harris, Jake, Davis and myself at the top

     

    View from the top
    View from the top

     

    Time to drop in
    Time to drop in

     

    Nearly every turn was like this, but most of the GoPro video was overexposed unfortunately
    Nearly every turn was like this, but most of the GoPro video was overexposed unfortunately.

    My first gif animation- the even better type of faceshot.

    Davis wasn't sick of the pow even after 1000 vertical metres
    Davis wasn't sick of the pow even after 1000 vertical metres, photo by me

     

    Myself, Davis and Harris stoked on the run, photo by Jake
    Myself, Davis and Harris stoked on the run, photo by Jake Linehan

     

    White line on the left shows where we hiked, red line on the right shows where we skied, put together by Harris for his instagram, @Hampton23
    White line on the left shows where we hiked, red line on the right shows where we skied, put together by Harris for his instagram, @Hampton23

     

    The sun going down on our last evening in Portillo paradise
    The sun going down on our last evening in Portillo paradise

     

    That evening we said our farewells and drove through the night to Pucon, to maximise the rest of the days that the Mighty Kangoo rental was available to us. Chile is much greener than Argentina and our journeys would take us into the thermal areas of hot springs, volcanoes and dirt roads to borders. Stay tuned for the next update!

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