"Glacier"—Frederik Kalbermatten "Spacé" Part 2 + Interview

  |   Michael Goodwin

Interview by Michael Goodwin

Introducing "Glacier," the second installment in Fredi's "Spacé" release. We caught up with Fredi for a quick chat and some background info on his latest video segment. Part 3 drops Wednesday May 18.

Have you lived in Saas Fee your whole life? How has riding on the glacier changed over the years?

Yes, my grandfather built the house I grew up in. The glacier is always changing, but in recent years it’s melting so fast that it’s changing more drastically. I always had glacier features in my snowboard parts, but I’ve really gotten more into it in recent years. 

This whole series was filmed in and around Saas Fee, correct? I have to imagine it feels pretty special to film a project like this, focused on home, after so many great years traveling? Have you had this idea for a while?

Yes, it was all filmed in Saas-Fee. Back in the days I used to spend so much time traveling that I only really rode a few weeks a year at home in winter. It really wasn't until 2013 that I spent the majority of a winter at home. I didn’t really have a plan to make this happen as a trilogy; I just rode as much as I could with my homies when the conditions were good, and when something was worthy I would get a film crew or drone together. 

The credit for making it into these three parts really goes to my friend Martin Luchsinger, who edited it all. He was going to make a season edit for me, but I had like 15 hours of raw footage, and when he saw it all he got inspired to divide it into these three mini movies. 

p: @yu_shoot

Introducing this project, you called it one of the best parts you’ve ever filmed? What makes you feel that way?

As far as the tricks go, it’s not my gnarliest, most technical, of course. But when you think about analyzing the conditions and terrain, and the planning and preparation that goes into riding a couloir or through a glacier tunnel, I feel like some of my best skills were at work and on display here. 

I also feel like it’s just a really enjoyable experience to watch. None of it’s boring, and again, all the love for that goes to Martin. He’s really a master at bringing together the timing and the music and finessing it in such a way that you just get swept up in the whole experience. 

Your family still owns an apartment in the village called The Dorfblick. Ever have any crazy guests come through? Got a good story for us?

Yes, my grandfather built the Dorfblick and I grew up there. One of my sons was even born there. There’s been so many good times spent in that house, and it’s seven different apartments so we have certainly had plenty of crazy guests. One time we had Woody Harrelson come by looking for advice from a pro. He was taking shred lessons and wanted to know how long it would take him to get that good. 

p: @puzzlemedia.ch

The ice cave you ride through in “Glacier” is insane—tell us a little about that. Do these form there often?

It seems like they are forming more in recent years with the glacier melting. But that’s the first one I have ever seen in Saas-Fee that you could ride through. Of course I’m really into glacier features, so I’m always on the lookout for something that might be shredable. 

So one day I saw a hole in the ice with another hole further down and I just wondered, might that be a tunnel that connects? I checked it out on foot, the bottom was pure ice, and in spots I had to duck down as it wasn’t high enough for me to stand, but I felt like I could ride through. My filmer buddy wasn’t sure if we could fly a drone through, it’s so long and the drone needs a signal. It was also really tight, and actually the drone did crash once, but we pulled it off. 

Are you still DJing? Can you hit us with a few slappers to add to our party playlist?

Yeah, I still DJ, and of course I had a slow season over the pandemic. For me, it’s not so much about individual bangers, it’s more like the mood of the whole event, building it up and dropping the right tracks at the right time. 

p: @yu_shoot

Do you have a favorite club in Switzerland, or in general?

I think probably the Riders Club in Laax. But I also like to play at smaller venues or local spots that have a lot of history. It doesn't always have to be the biggest or best club for it to be a really good time.  

If someone from the States is visiting Saas Fee for a day and night. What should they do? Where should they go?

Well they should stay at Dorfblick of course, and in winter they should go shredding and visit the ice pavilion at the top of the resort (it’s a huge man-made cave at the edge of the glacier where you can walk down 100 meters deep into the ice). For sure they should eat some cheese, raclette or fondue, and maybe catch me DJing in town at Nesti’s bar. 

In summer, every corner of the valley offers beautiful hiking trails and for people that are into mountaineering. There are plenty of 4,000 meter peaks to summit. Some of these you can also split up in winter. 

Any parting words or thanks?

I want to thank everyone who is taking climate change seriously and taking steps to fight it. Thanks to you all at Slush for this feature and to all the people involved in this project, Matt at Doodah, Jack and Jamie Mullner, and especially Martin Luchsinger.