Would you drop in, knowing that in the event of an accident the only rescue would be a Chinese military helicopter landing on the border of North Korea?
The next instalment of Jordan Manley’s exquisite ‘A Skier’s Journey’ has been released, and this time the crew head to their biggest and most challenging destination yet: China.
“Skiing as sport is in it’s infancy in China, a phenomenon of the country’s exploding middle class. As a means of survival, however, it is thousands of years old, a stone age hunter-gatherer technology born in the Altai mountains where China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Siberia merge.
On a vast trajectory that spans 11,000km of Northern China, Chad Sayers and Forrest Coots touch down into the rich past and dizzying future of these two respective Chinese ski cultures. As one rapidly expands, they find the other is at risk of disappearing.”
Skiing as sport is in it’s infancy in China, a phenomenon of the country’s exploding middle class. As a means of survival, however, it is thousands of years old, a stone age hunter-gatherer technology born in the Altai mountains where China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Siberia merge.
Though China is hardly known as a ski destination to most, it’s becomingly increasingly important to the industry. As well as the growing number of Chinese skiers, the expansion in infrastructure within the country is mind-boggling: in 1990 there were virtually no ski resorts, but now 26 years later there are 568 – many totally dependent on artificial snow!
More than that, it’s a fascinating country with incredible culture and huge mountains. The crew explore China’s first cat skiing operation at Changbaishan volcano (on the border with North Korea), discovering incredible blower powder on the lower flanks before moving onto Chongli (the destination for the 2022 Winter Olympics) and ‘Jackson Hole.’ Later they explore the Altai Mountains – one of the birth places of skiing – where they meet a nomadic group of herders and hunters, who show them the ancient art of ski building (including DIY rocker!) and how to hunt on skis.
Manley describes the adventure as one of the hardest and most challenging destinations he has visited: “we all agreed we had never traveled around in a more difficult place. From a filmmaking perspective, we continually ran into roadblocks that didn’t match what I was hoping for or expecting. It was an exercise in humility, recognizing that we’re not entitled to be able to capture everything we set out to.”