Ice & Palms (Film)
Ice & Palms follows Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck on an ambitious six-week bikepacking and skiing trip through the Alps, starting from their home in the south of Germany and ending at the Mediterranean Sea. Watch the full film here, along with a Q&A with Jochen, Max, and director Philipp Becker…
Ice & Palms follows Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck on an ambitious six-week bikepacking and skiing trip through the Alps, starting from their home in the south of Germany and ending at the Mediterranean Sea. Throughout their 1,800km journey, they skied iconic peaks and pedaled along empty roads, capturing incredible footage along the way. We chatted with Jochen, Max, and director Philipp Becker to get some background on this unique trip. Watch the full film below, then continue on to read their insights, accompanied by some additional photos from the Alps.
How’d you plan your route, and were there many surprises along the way?
Jochen: A journey like this had been a dream for both of us for some time. We started to plan around two years ago. The goal was to do a ski expedition right on our doorsteps. Step by step, the idea turned into a dream tour combining our main passions – the mountains, skiing, and cycling. If you look at the map, the main alpine ridge stretches from our start all the way down to Nice and the Mediterranean. The final route was not completely fixed before the start. We had some dream peaks in mind and had to adapt to the weather situation and regional snow conditions during the trip. There were a lot of surprises every day.
Thinking about the regions we rolled through, the Barre des Écrins in France was a very positive surprise. This was such a special place for both of us. It is a region we have not been to before and it was incredible to stand on this 4000m peak and see the full alpine ridge, including Mont Blanc on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side.
How was riding such a long distance with the skis attached to your bikes?
Max: Of course, the bike setup was not really light at 50kg each. Besides this problem, we struggled with the fact that the bikes started to wobble when riding fast because of the length of the skis and the heavy weight on the bikes. We tried everything to get the bikes stable, each of us with his own packing technique. But it didn’t help anything. After about two weeks the problem was gone for both of us and the bikes were stable. We still don’t know what it was. Probably we just adjusted our riding style to it and learned how to keep this long vehicle stable. After the tour it was a really strange feeling to ride without the heavy load on the bike. To be honest, we never questioned our choice to travel on bikes. I mean, that was the main idea of the project. And of course cycling is always a pleasure.
What’s it like skiing down a mountain with a bike strapped to your back? That’s something I’ve never seen before.
Max: We hadn’t seen this before either. And we were not planing to do it, either. We knew that Andermatt is a dead end road in wintertime. But we did not expect that all those passes around were still closed. So, it was the only option for us to get into Valais. The upper part of the skiing was okay. We felt like elephants, but it was alright. But the lower part was really flat and the snow was as sticky as honey. To push out there and get back to the road was super exhausting.
Where’d you find the best skiing conditions?
Max: We had many good skiing runs from corn snow to icy. But it was definitely magical as we skied down Brunegghorn in the Valais. Everything was just perfect: the light, the snow, the timing.
The visuals are stunning. Who did the camera work, and what gear did you use to film everything?
Philipp (Director): We accompanied Jochen and Max for 20 days of their 42-day trip to capture the biggest missions and most important parts of the journey. For the time we were not around, they documented the full story by themselves, and even shot the photos. Together, we developed a style how we would like to capture the journey and tell the story. We’re happy that it worked out so well. It was our goal to let the viewer become a part of the tour and the self-documented parts helped to tell the story in a really personal way. This also meant that Jochen and Max had to carry camera gear on their bikes as well. They had two Sony Alpha cameras, a set of Zeiss Loxia lenses, a Mavic Air drone, a light tripod, and a lot of batteries and SD cards. Charging batteries and handling data was a big challenge, especially when you are on the road or in the mountains every day and can’t carry a laptop to view and save footage.
Anything you’d change in terms of your gear or your approach if you did a trip like this again?
Jochen: In general, we’ve been really happy with the gear we chose. To our surprise, we thought about leaving the tent at home, when we do another trip like this. It is helpful if you want to sleep in alpine terrain, but for the time you are in the valleys you don’t really need it. The Alps are very easily accessed and you will find a dry place to roll out your sleeping bag every night. We stayed in bus stops, under balconies or even in a big pipe on construction site. Just be creative and you will find a good spot to rest.
Lastly, what’s next for you?
Philipp (Director): We started shooting a new project in the Alps two weeks ago. Same crew, but a different format. Watch out for the release in fall 2019!