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Late in the winter of 2018, a handful of wandering snowboarders decided to establish the first ever igloo village in Greece, on Mt Vasilitsa in the Pindos Mountain range. After 2 weeks of abstract weather shifts, bear and fox visits and lots of burnt snowboard boots, this nomadic group of filthy animals was left with nothing but soaking socks and swollen faces. Oh… and good times.
The man behind the scenes, and driving force behind this entire project is Spiros Badios, adventurer, explorer, snowboarder, surfer, skater and all around legend. When he’s not building igloos he lives on the island of Corfu where he surfs, skates, snowboards, makes his own boards and fights for ecological rights. He’s also the face behind the web series Manic Side Vlog (https://www.youtube.com/user/manicsidelife) and in case you haven’t already seen the precursor to this project you can check it out here – https://youtu.be/fWugfEPEJmA
It was at Mainalo (Check out the Blog Post here) – Spiro turns to me and Billy and says – “This year I want to build a village. An igloo village. It’ll have a living room, several bedrooms, a kitchen, a fireplace and access to fresh water. Even better – it’ll be a couple minutes away from the lifts, but still hidden and tucked away so no one can disturb us.” Did I need to hear more? “Spiro, you had me at fireplace”.
So we each did our own thing over winter, sometimes meeting up randomly to hike or skate or just catch up, but we kept the village in mind and set aside some time in late March to go up to Vasilitsa and meet Spiro. Billy and I arrived one evening after driving 8 hours or so from Athens, it was 11pm when we rolled into the Vasilitsa parking lot. Spiro had been there for a couple hours and had made some good headway on the foundation, carving out the main igloo pit and laying out the blueprint. Billy and I got to work pretty fast, it was late, and cold, and we needed a roof over our head for the night. That being said, all Billy had to do was a little landscaping and set up his tent. Nonetheless I got my igloo finished in about 3 hours, with a little help, and we settled in for a good night’s sleep around 5am.
The next few days saw the arrival of several friends, some who stayed throughout like Prosalentis, and some who only stayed a couple days like Fanis, Dimitrios Nikou, Kokkinos, Argyris, Lazaros Sfendonis and lots more who came for day trips.
What’s it like living in an igloo?
There’s no absolute answer. It’s not good, or bad, or cold or wet. It’s all of the above, but more importantly it’s a challenge. 2 weeks is a long time, and lots can happen. Temperatures rise and fall. It snows and then it rains and then the wind comes howling through the valley and blows everything away. It needs constant maintenance, but if you do it right and build it properly it ends up being a pretty sturdy structure. The snow melt on the inside keeps trying to form little hang points, dripping water into the igloo. With some fresh snow you just have to stucco the inside until its smooth like a dome, so any meltwater runs off to the sides and into the ground. It’s always a cool 0 degrees inside the igloo, so the cold days it’s nice and cosy, but once the temperatures rose above 0 I started sleeping in my hammock outside. I used a plastic sheet as a ground layer in the igloo to keep the moisture away from my sleeping bag, and then as a roof over the hammock outside to avoid getting rained on.
The best part of this whole experience wasn’t the proximity to the mountain, the challenge of living outdoors, the camaraderie or even the days of endless snowboarding. Don’t get me wrong, these were all amazing, but the thing that left me with the desire to go back one day and do it all again is, simply put, the fact that nothing else mattered. I was completely immersed in the experience. Every second of every day was spent thinking about what was happening. Getting firewood. Making food. maintaining the igloo. Organising the camp. Talking about the next days plans. Testing the snow. And riding. And there’s nothing better than clearing your head of everything else in the world and just focusing on being there, in the moment, with no preconceptions, no bias, no silly ideas of how things should be or what others think of this lifestyle. Just living in that moment. It sounds so cliche but dammit its so true.
I’m not going to go into details about what happened over those two weeks. Too much to mention here. And most of it is in the film. But I will say one thing. After two weeks in Vasilitsa, with Spiro, Billy, Andreas, Prosalentis, Lazaro and everyone else, my hands and feet were frozen but my heart was warm and I had a lot more love for this beautiful world we live in.
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Igloo architect: Spiros Badios
Filmed by: Themistocles Lambridis, Spiros Badios, Andreas Mitsioulis and Anstasia Vasilakopoulou
Featuring: Badios, Hill Bill, Zethon, Sporos, Takolas, Nikolas, Nikou, Prosalentis, Kokkinos, Argyris, LA, Marios, Antonis David, Bounovas, Jojo, Margarita, Nikos, Lida, Giorgos, Thanasis, Fasolias, Iraklis, Polimeroudis, Eleni, Katerina, Niovi.
Kalashnikov – Goran Bregovic
Βαριεμαι – Μαιρη Λω
Absolutely Nothing – The Velvoids
Dolana Dolana – Mustafa Ozkent
Τα Ρεμπετικά μας μες τη Στράτα – Σωτηρία Μπέλλου
Poison Fang – Vast Asteroid
Super Special Thanks:
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