Think those videos you see of amazing mountain adventures just come easy? Think again. Some aspiring filmmakers from Slovakia got in touch with their story of their adventure in the West Tatras mountains and how their new film “Get High” came to be.
By Zuzana Triebusnikova
One and a half year ago I did not know almost anything about mountain biking. Now I can say that I know more about it and have seen more videos than a regular rider. Peter Lengyel has infected me with his passion and showed me that it is possible to do what you like.
He had this video in mind for a long time. Thus, when he was ready to make it I wanted to take part. Even though it is a short movie, it took a lot of work, effort and planning. It is almost no budget movie. No budget, because we had only family support (borrowed cars and some equipment) and a borrowed bike for 2 weeks which Peter have not ridden before. However, without the priceless help of our friends, the video would be impossible. The biggest thanks goes to Juraj Lovás and Michal (Sakso) Stiksa who filmed the entire video.
So we had two weeks to film it. As you will see from the pictures, the weather was not always pleasing us. Rain, snow, fog, drizzle, wind, sun, we had all kinds of weather…
Two cameramen – Juraj Lovás and Michal Stiksa, Peter, bike, rake and me were the core crew of our trips to mountains. As I already said, the weather was not very favorable to us but when we caught a sight of the sun, the action began. The first thing was to arrange an available car, pick up all the guys and to decide which part of our mountains might be sunny and rideable. We had little time and it often happen that we were in the mountains a whole day without almost any food. However, by the end of the day, everybody was happy and satisfied. Even, if we did not get the best shots some days, we had a lot of fun, good times and gained unforgettable memories.
The video was shot in the beginning of September, so we did not expect the temperature to go as low as it went sometimes. There were evenings, when we were descending from the spots with no light and very little warm clothes. One evening, Peter rode his bike in the dark. Juraj, with his fast legs and camera equipment ran after him and Sakso followed them alone in the dark, some meters behind, only with the light from his phone.
The log cabin was very tiny but Peter Zelinka, Sakso and Peter fitted just fine in there. The night spent there started kind of unusually. When the day gets darker, everybody goes home from the mountains. Unsurprisingly, not us. The time we had was short. So, when the weather forecast for the next morning was fairly good, we arranged and organized everything in the evening and I drove guys to the valley from where they climbed up to the log cabin. They wanted to get some sunrise shots and did not expect ground frost and snow.
There are some good first shots. However, some of them had to be taken few times. It was not easy to synchronize rider, cameraman, sunlight and unruly freezing hands. Nonetheless, Peter said that he did not have time to be cold. The rest of the crew was usually freezing but as long as they got a good shot, they did not mind the weather.
We had to visit some spots several times to get the satisfactory shots. Not every day the same people could join us. Most of the time I spent with guys. However, we are also very thankful for the woman’s part of the crew, especially to photographer Zuzana Stromková and Daša Devečková.
Since, the video has been uploaded couple of weeks ago, we already have some feedback. We appreciate it very much. Nevertheless, some people who saw the video complain that Peter damages the nature with his bike. The picture above captures the only moment when the guys seriously built something in the mountains. Otherwise, they used only their hands and rakes to clean the tracks from branches and rocks. We appreciate our mountains very much. Therefore we try to protect it and keep it clean.
We had three days to finish the movie and we still did not have enough material for it. So, in the morning, when the sun came out we packed the tent, sleeping bags, foam mats, the food, camera equipment and everything else we needed. Peter’s dad drove us to the starting point and we started the ascent. It took us about five hours to climb to the target place. In the beginning, it was sunny. As we went higher, it started to rain and the fog veiled our view. With every climbed meter, we were getting more tired. On the way up, I was picking mushrooms and in the middle of the ascent each of us loaded own backpack with some logs. During the way up, we were imagining ourselves, sitting around small campfire, grilling mushrooms, topped with some bacon from grandma.
As you can see from the next picture, our imagination was very disappointed. By the time we got somewhere close to our destination, our limbs were almost frozen and I did not feel my shoulders from carrying the heavy backpack. It took us another half an hour to spot the lakes in the dense fog. Guys put around me backpacks and bike and left me alone. They went to find the place where the wind was not so strong and where we could build the tent. Heavy fog and terrible wind were pulling out the tears from my eyes. I did not cry, even though, I must admit, I was very close…
After a while, they showed up again and I was happy to see them. They found the lakes. We moved our stuff to that spot. The wind was not helping us to build the tent and since my hands were freezing I did not help much either. After around 30 min we were sitting in the tent. The wind also caused that the top of our tent was dancing above our heads. In addition, our single layer tent did not deal very well with the humidity. I was fine. I slept in the middle but Juraj and Peter were quite wet from the drops running down the walls. Our feet were still freezing. Thus, we put them together inside one sleeping bag, to warm them up.
While, we were making ourselves at least a bit comfortable, the second half of the crew started their ascent. Since, there was no phone connection, we did not know whether they will come or turn around somewhere on the way and go back home. None of us expected their arrival. In the period of one hour we had two rounds of food and then we fell asleep.
Around half past nine, Peter and Juraj heard some voices and ran out of the tent. To our surprise, Johny Smitka, Sakso and Peter Zelinka finally arrived. They also carried heavy backpacks with them and brought many logs which we, in the end, left there unused. We still could not believe that they made it to the top in that terrible weather conditions. I greeted them from the tent, while laying in my sleeping bag and guys helped them to build their tent next to the second lake.
In the morning, we woke up around 7:30 a.m. We were disappointed and frustrated that the whole trip was worthless. I went to visit the other guys into their tent. They were playing cards and trying to stay warm by sipping from the flask. I sat down with them and we were chatting for a while. Suddenly, we started to feel something warm on our backs. We ran out of the tent and the whole sky was brightly blue.
The nature rewarded us for our suffering. We left the tent where we build it and started climbing to the top to get some shots done.
Our tent from above.
Only Juraj and Peter went to the very top of the mountain. The rest of us stayed right here, from where this picture is taken. Since, clouds were moving fast, they had to hurry.
While we were waiting for them, these visitors were making our company.
We saw 15 mountain goats that day and the beautiful scenery.
Johny Smitka and Peter Zelinka are enjoying the mountains.
Sakso, taking a selfie picture with the stunning view.
Peter and Juraj on the top of the highest peak.
It is needless to say that riding in the video could be much better. However, Peter has never ridden before these trails and he was on a big bike after a long time on hardtail.
Saying goodbye to our “Giants”.
On the way home we were exhausted. Nevertheless, guys did one more shot. After that Peter was not able to ride the bike down and he pushed it for the rest of the way down.
This was the last day of the shooting. Martin Vyskočáni and Adam Žiaran joined us. As you can see from the last part of the video, Peter rode with them. It was trail of Adam and Martin and they rode it together for the first time. Since, Sakso was not able to come with us early in the morning that day, it was the first day when I did some shooting. Sakso and Oliver Dvorský joined us later that day.
We ended the shooting with the campfire. It was truly relieving feeling just to sit there for two hours and watch the wood burning.
Peter has never edited video before but he was strongly determined to make the best of it. Thus, when we came back to our current “base camp” in Prague, he started right away. However, later on he realized that it is not going to be as easy as he expected. Therefore, he decided to do two one-minute videos (Misty Morning and Fall) via which he learned how to use the editing program. It took him, with some breaks and riding in between, around three months. I think he did quite well. But it is up to you to decide.
- Riding, concept and edit: Peter Lengyel
- Additional riders: Adam Žiaran & Martin Vyskočáni
- Camera: Juraj Lovás and Michal Stiksa
- Photography: Juraj Lovás, Michal Stiksa, Zuzana Triebusnikova and Zuzana Stromková