Playing a game of pond hockey surrounded by snowy peaks, 1,700 metres above sea level might sound like a dream afternoon, but for a small group of puck-loving Canadians, it was a reality.
The man behind it all was helicopter pilot and aerial photographer Bradley Friesen, who set the whole thing up through a few last-minute text messages to a small group of Vancouver hockey players.
“My old teammate basically wrote, ‘Hey, we’re playing hockey tomorrow at the top of a mountain, are you in?’” Federico Angel, a former goaltender at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, told The New York Times. “There was no other explanation.”
Everyone met at Pitt Lake, northeast of Vancouver, where they hopped aboard Friesen’s helicopter and flew to a glacier in the mountains of Golden Ears Provincial Park.
The location did not disappoint—not only was the surrounding landscape something to behold, but the smooth, crystal-clear ice conditions made for the perfect outdoor rink.
Friesen found the perfect patch of black ice while flying over the region a few years ago.
“I immediately got this idea in my head that I wanted to build a rink on the mountain at some point,” Friesen told The New York Times.
While he tried to organize and film his vision numerous times over the past few years, Mother Nature proved to be fickle, and the conditions were never just right. So when he found this spot in perfect shape this past November, time was of the essence—the weather only provided him with a 24-hour window to pull it all off.
After the players were dropped off, the helicopters picked up the nets and gear. They lowered them onto the rink, which sits 1.7 kilometres above sea level.
“It was a pretty surreal image and one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget,” Angel told CBC News.
Alongside Angel and a few other college league players were men from the NHL and AHL. But according to Angel, they didn’t focus on skill level that afternoon.
“It wasn’t about the level of hockey. It was just about the experience of being out there on the ice because it was so once-in-a-lifetime.”