„Hidden Mountain Project“ – Niseko I

„Wir brauchen noch einen SecondHand-Motor, einen alten Fernseher und fünf Schaufeln.“ Während Heath das fehlende Equipment aufzählt, lasse ich meinen Blick schweifen. Um mich herum ist es weiß. Bäume, Hügel, Flüsse: Alles ist von einer meterdicken Schneeschicht bedeckt. Hier in Niseko, zweinhalb Stunden von Sapporo entfernt, schneit es in den Wintermonaten so viel wie nirgendwo sonst auf der Welt. Un die sibirische Kälte sorgt dafür, dass all dieser Schnee leicht wie Puderzucker ist. Was unser Unterfangen nicht unbedingt leichter macht. Denn: Wir bauen ein Schneedorf.

Ein Jahr nachdem ich jeden Tag in ein Büro mit Ausblick auf die Bahnschienen gefahren bin, stehe ich im japanischen Nirgendwo und buddele im Schnee. Nach viel Klinkenputzen in Neuseeland habe ich schließlich einen Kameramann gefunden, der mit mir arbeiten will und mich in seine Kunst unterweist. Und eben dieser Kameramann wurde für ein Projekt angefragt, das den Bau einer Ansammlung von Iglus mit diversen Extras beinhaltet. Wochenlanges Betteln hat geholfen, jetzt stehe ich neben ihm und sehe die Sonne hinter den Hügeln verschwinden, die so viel niedriger sind als in den europäischen Skigebieten. Mit von der Partie sind neben dem Kameramann und mir noch ein weiterer Kameramann, ein Fotograf und zwei Profisnowboarder aus Neuseeland.

Unser Tagesablauf variiert nur unwesentlich. Wir steigen in Niseko in die Autos, fahren geraume Zeit zu einem Parkplatz irgendwo im Nirgendwo, schlüpfen in die Schneeschuhe und stapfen bis zu dem Ort, an dem das „hiddenmountainproject“ stattfindet. Bei gutem Wetter filmen wir die Athleten bei ihren Tricks, bei schlechtem Wetter wird gebaut. Das Tempo, mit dem das Ganze vonstatten geht, verblüfft mich unendlich. Am ersten Tag standen wir auf diesem Hügel und um uns herum nichts als zwei Meter hoher Schnee. Jetzt, nur 72 Stunden später verfügen wir über ein gut ausgebautes Iglu mit Getränketheke für japanischen Whiskey, einen Balkon und eine prachtvolle Sprungschanze.

Die Ideen für die kommenden Wochen werden dabei immer großspuriger: Von einem fünfzig Meter langen Tunnel ist die Rede, ebenso wie von einem Hindernisparcours durch das gesamte Tal. Außerdem sollen wir Skulpturen aus Eis schnitzen und ganze Nächte auf dem eisigen Berg verbringen. Vieles davon kann ich mir absolut nicht vorstellen, aber scheinbar fehlt mir einfach die Fantasie, bzw. das Selbstvertrauen.

Fazit nach Tag 4 von 28: Auch der irrsinnigste Plan lässt sich in die Tat umsetzen. Scheinbar ist tatsächlich nichts unmöglich, wenn man überzeugend genug auftritt. Und: Schnee graben ist die die einzige Möglichkeit, bei minus elf Grad warme Hände zu bekommen.

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The Holy Crate

Last weekend New Zealand celebrated one of the most unusual holidays I’ve ever heard of: Crate Day. Invented by The Rock radio station that wanted to stop the breweries from shutting down the production of big beer bottles (750 ml), Kiwis meet once a year to empty a whole crate of beer. Twelve bottles per person makes nine liters a day. Unfortunately I couldn’t celebrate like this because I had to work that day. It gave me the opportunity to watch others doing it. Here is my report:

14:00: Wanaka lies silent in the warm summer sun. The air is filled with the smell of flowers and there is almost no noise. This should be the famous Crate Day where everybody gets drunk? I drop my friend L. at his colleague’s house. Six boys at a round table, chatting and looking all very decent.

15:00: I try to call L. to figure out if it is worth coming before my work starts. „Hello, hello, hello, helloooooo!“ Well, that is not his voice. Whatever. „Hello, may I ask wether you are having a male party or a mixed gender one?“ „Hahahahahaha, it is a male party until you get here, then it will be mixed gender.“ Alright, good to know, I think this one has already had a couple of beers.

15:30: My phone rings. „Hi, it’s me. When are you coming?“ – „I don’t know if I should. Is it still only a male party?“ – „No, there are so many people here right now. Please come, I need support. I already had to drink the beer bong twice.“ I have no idea what he is talking about but it sounds interesting.

16:00: Arrival at the party. Things have definitely changed. 50 drunken Kiwis and a much higher number of beer bottles fill the little yard in front of the house. The air smells like Barbecue and alcohol and nobody looks decent anymore. First I cannot find L. Then I see him sitting in a rubber boat, with glassy eyes, completely sun burnt. „Heeeeeeeeeey!“ He uses his chance to escape the beer bong boat and takes me into the house. Now we are talking about a proper bong (without beer but a lot of another ingredient). „Hahahaha, this guy lost half of his foot in a lawnmower, you should see it.“ The guy comes over and starts taking off his shoe: „Would you like to?“ God, no, but thank you very much. A girl in a bikini enters the room: „The sun is so strong, I need sunscreen. Can anybody help me?“ Bikini beats weed, suddenly there are many volunteers around. On the way to the toilet I meet a colleague from work. „Heeeeeeeeeey.“ (That seems the normal way to greet someone on Crate Day.) She is wearing a super short dungaree with nothing but a lace bra underneath. Wow. I don’t remember her name but this is certainly not important right now. „How are you? I accidentally slept with one of our colleagues yesterday, hahahahaha.“ Accidentally? I am not sure how to picture that but I don’t get a chance to ask because she disappears within seconds. Unfortunately I have to leave the party to go to work.

17:00 – 22:00: Crate Day is definitely a day of Homeparties. Instead of having a crowded Saturday night in the bar, we are facing empty tables most of the evening.

22:00: My shift is over, I try to call L. „Where are you?“ – „I don’t know, somebody woke me up and threw me out of the house, so I try to find my way home.“ No more Crate Day Party for him I suppose. We are heading towards a bar to meet other colleagues and their friends from Gore who didn’t have to work and could celebrate properly. One of them obviously didn’t stop after the 12th beer and now he wants something more than just alcohol. He tries to get in touch with every girl around him but unfortunately he has lost his voice during the day and it doesn’t really work. The constant pointing towards his penis is thoroughly tempting but somehow nobody responds.

23:00: One of the visitors from the South has to concentrate very hard not to fall asleep. Eyes half closed he stares into the fire. Next to him sits H., a female colleague. Suddenly she jumps up and stares at him: „Did you just spit on my arm?“ He turns his head, very slowly and seems to be unable to say anything else but: „Ahaem, what?“ It makes her even more furious. „Did you just fucking spit on my arm?“ Yelling that she pours her whole drink in his face. Well, at least now he is awake. And sticky, Whiskey and Coke is not the best thing to have on your skin and in your hair. He looks quite pitiful. For the rest of the night he and his friends eyeball H. suspiciously whenever she appears. Funny to see how a bunch of muscular Maoris are afraid of a delicate 19 year old Irish girl. It’s obviously all about the attitude.

24:00: Crate Day seems to come to an end, more than half of the party crowd is barely awake. I start to walk home. The smell of the air has changed once again, I can’t help but notice the strong odor of puke. At the lakefront I bump into a couple that seems to just have finished some quality time. „Heeeeeeeeey, good party eh!“ I ask them what they like most about Crate Day. She takes her time to think about an answer but it’s worth it: „Beer, Barbecue, Mates and getting pissed all day: Why wouldn’t you love Crate Day?“