When a group of the world’s best big-mountain MTB riders travel to Axel Heiberg (an uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic) it goes without saying that some of the most technical riding and adventurous moments would go down. It’s 750 miles from the North Pole, 10 hours from the nearest hospital and home to slightly under 2,000 glaciers (as well as some of the steepest terrain and longest lines in the world), not to mention that it sits “north of nightfall,” where the sun is out 24 hours a day during the summer.
And for the filming of their latest mountain bike film titled “North of Nightfall,” Darren Berrecloth, Cam Zink, Carson Storch, Tom van Steenbergen, photographer Blake Jorgenson, Red Bull Media House and the Freeride Entertainment crew spent three weeks on Axel Heiberg.
Darren Berrecloth stopped by the ASN office last week where we had a chance to talk about the trip: how it went, what it was like, and if anyone forgot a sleeping mask.
First off, bravo to you and the rest of the crew. I feel like ‘North of Nightfall’ is a very high quality film that’s presented properly. Did you guys go into this film with any particular plan in mind?
No, we actually didn’t have too much of a plan going into it because we didn’t want it to seem like we were beating our audience over the head with the message we were trying to send. With filming, that’s the one thing you never want to do. I think our crew did a great job of showcasing our trip for what it was, all while subtly portraying our mission, our encounters, and what was going on … beyond just the mountain biking.
The climate change facts that we threw in there at the end was not apart of any plan either. That just came from spending time with Axel Heiberg glaciologist, Dr. Laura Thomson and appreciating the island.
How would you rate the terrain in Axel Heiberg?
The biggest thing that we had to wrap our heads around was the vastness and the size of the lines. We’re used to riding lines that are about one third of the size of Axel Heiberg’s which made it hard to find the confidence when sitting at the top. The view from the bottom and the view from the top are two totally different things.
The film doesn’t show these types of clips but there were a few times where I had to to stop when I saw something I wasn’t familiar with. More often than not, it would end up being an 80 foot cliff that would result in death.
It was good to see that you guys brought a doctor with you. But even then, was it weird dropping into those lines, knowing that you’re ten hours away from a hospital?
Yes. But I’m a bit older so I didn’t go out there looking to progress myself or the sport like the others were. I was still pushing my limits but I didn’t want to end up in a situation that could really suck; because I’ve been there before.
In the event of an injury, Dr. Clark Lewis was capable of doing everything that he could do in a hospital, other than imaging. Luckily, the only two serious injuries we had on the trip were a concussion and a dislocated shoulder which were easily treatable.
How did you schedule your day in an area where the sun doesn’t go down?
We just rolled with the punches and scheduled around the sun’s location for lighting purposes. Although the sun doesn’t set, it still moves horizontally. With that being said, a lot of jokes were tossed around whenever someone said something like, “tomorrow afternoon,” because it was technically always afternoon.
What was it like being stuck in your tent during the two-day rainstorm?
It sucked. But it wasn’t the worst part of the trip. The worst part of the trip was the food.
What did you guys do for food?
We ate pretty good food for the first week. We had some steaks and some vegetables. But after that, it was all freeze-dried and non perishables which was terrible. We ended up having to dose our meals in copious amounts of salt, pepper, and hot sauce because that was the only way we could make it taste relatively close to how real food tastes. Towards the end of the trip, we ran out. So for the last few days, there was nothing to make it taste any better … Yeah, that was definitely the worst part of the whole trip.
Other than that, it was all good?
Yeah, it really was. Axel Heiberg was such a unique experience. I’ll probably never go to a place where the population is zero and the sun never sets, so it was really cool being there. I’m very happy with everything from the trip to way the film turned out. It was all great.
Be sure to head to North of Nightfall’s website for screening dates and digital purchase info.
All Photos by Blake Jorgenson.
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