Top image by Tom Roffey. Bottom image by Daygin Prescott.
With a warming climate, there is growing concern for the future of snowsports in the Kosciuszko National Park. STEEP REFLECTIONS aims to change your perspective on the Australian backcountry and create greater awareness around the importance of both mountain safety and our environmental footprint.
This film was brought to life by POW Australia ambassador Cameron ‘Woody’ Wood, who tapped into the Jindabyne backcountry community to create a film that aims to both inspire exploration and action to protect our winters.
We spoke to Woody about the making of the film.
POW: Woody, you are the mastermind behind ‘Steep Reflections’. What was the motivation behind creating the film?
Woody: I felt a connection to the alpine of Australia, much like the connection I feel for my home mountains in Scotland. I was welcomed into the backcountry community which was full of inspiring people. Throughout the season I worked and skied with some passionate riders who clearly shared the same vision. Eventually the idea sparked, we wanted to pursue some of Australia’s biggest lines and ski them fast. But there was a much deeper connection which led to the heart of the story line. This place has a unique beauty to it and much like Scotland it’s under threat from a changing climate, with so many people dedicated to preserving this landscape I felt compelled to do the same. ‘Steep Reflections’ is a reflection of the connection we all share with the mountains.
Why was it important to you to involve POW in the film and highlight the fragility of our Alpine ecosystem?
It wasn’t until I realised first hand that my days of skiing back home were numbered, that’s when I decided to take action. I see many similarities in Australia with changing conditions and I have witnessed how that affects the ecosystem and our way of life.
POW was the initial connection for me with better understanding how I could make a difference. Not only was POW an inspiration for the film, they were at the forefront of helping us create the message we wanted to present. The Snowy Mountains are such a unique and beautiful landscape that provides a playground for backcountry enthusiasts, it’s our responsibility to give it the protection and respect that it deserves.
How difficult is it to film in the Snowy Mountains? What sort of logistical constraints and hurdles did you face?
Well, first things first. The Snowy Mountains are a beast unlike any other alpine region of the world. With 100 km+ winds, -20 windchill and blinding whiteouts, it can provide some serious type 2 fun.
That being said, weather windows were one of the biggest hurdles. Managing people’s busy schedules and ensuring you have the filming licence in place for those dreamy blue bird pow days, eventually all came down to luck.
No matter where your day starts, you can expect to do some hard miles getting to the good stuff. Once you’ve hacked your way from the car park and tackled river crossings there are some great access routes across the main ridge lines, which also provide great view points to pitch your camera man.
The range has a lot of big terrain, with some serious no fall zones and very questionable snow conditions, you really have to pick the right aspect on the right time and day, especially when you plan on hammering your way down the line.
Riding the western faces is all about timing, generally we would take a 2–3-day camp trip to film in this zone. I had one unforgettable evening crossing the ridge on my way back from Watsons Crags in the dark as a whiteout came in. I had hung around a wee bit too long to get the shots that day. It paid off none the less!
We would try and have everything planned down to the finest detail but a lot of the time the mountains had something else in mind. Big kudos to the filmers, following you around while you chase down your desired peaks, all while carrying a hell of a lot more gear than you.
Filming in the snowy mountains is totally achievable, you just need to stay persistent and give it time.
What riders are featured in the film and how did they get involved?
Originally, we started the filming with my work mates from the Thredbo Backcountry Guide team. The crew had so much diversity, everyone brought such unique qualities to the table. No matter their backgrounds to the sport, everyone shared the same vision moving forward.
Some of the team were already acting ambassadors for both POW and MSC (Mountain Safety Collective), providing the crew with helpful knowledge and sparking inspiration. The film went on to work with more local freeriders, all unified by a love for their sport and landscape in which they get to express their passion.
What do you hope viewers will take from the film?
I look at the positive impacts this sport has had on my life, it has promoted a healthier, more sustainable way of living. I hope the viewers recognize their connection to the mountains upon watching ‘Steep Reflections’, and take a step out of their comfort zone. We hold the power to affect considerable change, there is no excuse for not taking responsibility for our own actions.
There is so much to explore in this world, and thanks to organisations like Protect our Winters and Mountain Safety Collective, hopefully people can educate themselves to do so safely and with respect.
Steep Reflections is screening in May
Catch an exclusive premiere of local film STEEP REFLECTIONS, followed by a Q&A with the film crew, MSC and POW Ambassadors. You’ll not only get the chance to connect with likeminded winter folk, but you’ll get to learn more about how we can protect our winters in Australia.
Adults $10 donation, under 18s free. All proceeds go towards supporting POW Australia. Prizes up for grabs include a pair of skis from Dynastar, and gear from The North Face, Smith and Rhythm.
Reserve your tickets here.