A Story of Friendship, Goodbyes, and a Love for Steep Skiing in Norway
Nikolai Schirmer has been skiing since he was 13 years old, but it wasn’t until later in life that he realized he could make a career out of the sport.
“For many years I wanted skiing to just be fun,” says the Norwegian skier and filmmaker. But in his mid-20s, when he was living as a ski bum in Chamonix, France, he watched as his friends were “pulled in by life” — starting real jobs and no longer able to simply chase the next great line. “If I wanted to still have skiing as the center of my life, I had to make it my job.”
And so he did. Now 31 years old, Schirmer has made countless films documenting his adventures skiing in the backcountry, taking viewers to new heights (literally) on mountains in France and Norway.
His latest three films take place on the Norwegian mountains of Nállangáisi, Skamtinden, and Jiehkkevárri (the biggest mountain in Northern Norway). With inspirational music and flashbacks to earlier trips, Schirmer’s films aren’t like any old ski edit; they get to the heart of why the crew keeps coming back to the daunting, beautiful mountains.
In each film, the avalanche risk is ever present. Schirmer says he does extensive research on a mountain and its conditions to make sure he’s being as safe as possible before heading into the backcountry.
Schirmer also must consider who he brings on each expedition. All crew members are experienced (and oftentimes professional) skiers, but it’s up to each person to determine how much they want to push themselves out of their comfort zone. It’s important to “let everyone approach the mountain in their own way” Schirmer says; if someone wants to turn around on a section of the mountain that doesn’t feel safe for them, their decision is respected.
Despite the harrowing nature of Schirmer’s work, there’s a lightness and playfulness to the films. “Skiing can be the best thing in the world,” he says, explaining that they aren’t trying to portray themselves as “superheroes who go into the mountains and face danger. The only reason to put ourselves in these situations is because it’s fun.”
Nállangáisi, Skamtinden, and Eulogy Of A Steep Skier, from Norrøna, capture some of Schirmer’s biggest runs and give viewers the chance to get to know him and the team. Watch Eulogy Of A Steep Skier above.