When Filmmakers Chris Winters and Brian Hockenstein headed over to the Altay Mountains to trace the origins of skiing, they were prepared for a number of cultural and political roadblocks—what they did not expect was a disease outbreak that has spread across the world to have originated just a few thousand miles from where they were filming their documentary.
Like any good problem solver would, they began to make plans B, C, and D—but soon enough, their fate was decided for them. They would be evacuated from the remote mountain range they were calling basecamp, and evacuated via Altay City. Although their documenting of the history of skiing in China came to an abrupt end, they had an interesting couple days getting evacuated—check out the short video below to learn more about their adventure. —ML
Sḵwx̱wú7mesh/Squamish (February 9, 2020) – The filmmaking team from Wild Winters Productions is home safe after a harrowing evacuation from China while filming their upcoming documentary SNOW HUNTERS. The pair, alongside a team of professional skiers and snowboarders, was forced to leave the remote village of Kohm, in the Altay Mountains in northern Xinjiang Province, and have produced a new short film to tell the story of Chinese generosity that aided in their escape.
“We were prepared for many difficulties, both cultural and political, however, we had no contingency plan in place when there was a sudden outbreak of coronavirus,” says Executive Producer, Chris Winters. “Once it became apparent that the outbreak was spreading quickly we decided as a team to abort the project early and find a way home to North America.”
“To complicate our escape efforts, a large snowstorm was keeping transportation officials from reaching us as they needed to travel over multiple mountain passes that were blocked by recent avalanches,” says Director of Photography, Brian Hockenstein
As chances of making their flights home dwindled, the team sat stranded on the side of the road as an extensive snow removal effort took place. Once an elaborate network of tunnels had been dug over 50km, the convoy of vehicles was finally able to continue on their long drive to the airport in Altay City and then on flights out of China. This was all due to the commitment made by the local government and community to get the team to safety.
“It was only after passing through dozens of other similar tunnels over the next few hours that we realized the immense scope of the snow removal efforts all for the benefit of our team’s evacuation from the village.”.
The short film, Coronavirus Escape, can be viewed online here and images can be found here . For more information on the SNOW HUNTERS documentary project, visit www.snowhuntersfilm.com .