With over a decade of backcountry video parts, Jussi Oksanen has seen the highs and lows while filming with the help of snowmobiles. Over the summer at Mt. Hood, Jussi talked about what a typical day of filming is like and how doubling on a sled with a friend for 45 miles is a good bonding experience.
What’s a typical day of filming in the backcountry like?
Wake up at 5am, get your gear ready, get a quick breakfast and some coffee, drive to the parking lot and unload the sled, make sure you have all the gear, lunch and everything else for the day, then we go snowmobiling. On an average day we probably do about 60 or 70 miles. We usually have a plan of where we want to go, so we head there and see what happens along the way. Ideally you want to hit one thing, but if you can do a couple then it’s awesome.
Does it get any easier to wake up early throughout the season?
I’m used to it because I have kids, so I get up at 5:30 every morning anyway. But it’s kind of exciting when the conditions are good, you are looking forward to going out. The earlier you go the better because sometimes it’s so deep that it takes two hours just to break the trail.
What are some things you never head into the backcountry without?
I have a GPS thing that connects to my iPhone so I can do S.O.S. calls, which is important to have out there. Then transceiver, probe, shovel, lunch, extra gear like gloves and goggles, extra layers—you never know when you might get stuck you so you have to have some warm clothes—and a lot of water.
What are some challenges of filming in the backcountry?
The weather for sure. It’s really frustrating sometimes. You have things in mind you want to hit, but the weather can change and it changes the feature. This year we only got about 10 good, solid filming days. There’s a bunch of stuff you have in mind that you want to go to, but you don’t have a chance because you only have 10 days. That can be really frustrating. Also, there’s the wind factor. You can get 6 feet overnight and it looks bluebird the next day, then the wind comes in and it’s just bulletproof. That’s what we have to deal with all the time.
Do you have to go out further in the backcountry now?
We definitely have to go further. The furthest we went this year was probably 60 miles one way. Then we do our whole thing, then 60 miles back. I like the mission of it, but there are a lot of things that go wrong with the sleds.
What’s the worst thing that happened with your sled last season?
This year my snowmobile broke down 45 miles deep in the backcountry. There’s no way to get that out. I had to get it heli-ed out, and then Mikey and I had to double all the way, 45 miles, back out. There are always things that are going to happen. But it’s fun and it’s worth it, because you’ll find things that you’ve never hit before. You’re just away from people too, out there with your crew. If we stay in the spots that everybody knows then it’s just madness, like being at Big Bear or something.