The Japanese-produced ‘IF’ short film gives us an unbelievable glimpse into what it’s like to watch an avalanche sweep across the mountain you are standing on, inches from your feet. What is that feeling like? What if…
Japanese pro snowboarder Hisanori Katsuyama takes on Tanigawa-dake in Gunma prefecture, Japan. What is Tanigawa-dake? Only the world’s most dangerous mountain, also known as the “Everest of the East,” in reference to the hundreds of people who have died trying to climb it.
The short film opens in black and white, with a direct-facing, slo-mo view of an avalanche taking form and tumbling down Tanigawa. At this moment, on this mountain, Katsuyama had to move over a large cornice in order to traverse some tricky terrain. It was this cornice that fell, triggering the avalanche.
“That experience reminded me of the real power of the mountain,” Katsuyama said through a translator in the film. The film describes it as Katsuyama’s “if” moment — “that thing that has overwhelming power over you.”
Looking for awe, wonder, beauty, chaos, and a little bit of fear? IF encapsulates it all.
Watch this stunning footage of Katsuyama’s challenge on Tanigawa, and you may come a small bit closer to understanding that “if” feeling.
Runtime: 5 minutes
IF was directed by Yuta Watanabe and its photography was directed by Tomokazu Kuwano. Backcountry Access sponsored this film.