If you haven't heard of Sam Anthamatten, here's an intro: Hailing from Zermatt, Switzerland, Anthamatten's bloodline is renowned in the alpine climbing world. Along with his two older brothers, Simon and Martin, the Anthamattens' resumes include harrowing first ascents (including the 24,114-foot south face of Jasemba in Nepal), iconic climbs (such as the Freerider route on Yosemite's El Capitan and all summits of the Cerro Torre and Fitzroy chains in Patagonia) and championships at elite randonnee races. Last year, Anthamatten parlayed a wild-card entry in the Swatch Freeride World Tour into an overall runner-up finish. He took fourth at the Fieberbrunn, Austria, stop of the Freeride World Tour last weekend and is currently ranked sixth overall on the 2012 world tour. We caught up with Anthamatten on a down day in Alaska while he was there filming with Matchstick Productions.
How did this trip with MSP to Alaska come about?
Our first option was to go to the Alps, but we had dry conditions in February. There were pretty bad conditions around Zermatt, Verbier and Chamonix. MSP's plan B was Haines, Alaska.
That's not a bad plan B …
No, it's not bad at all. Actually, for me it is great because I always wanted to go to Alaska. It's perfect. This is the first time I've filmed with MSP and I'm pretty stoked about it.
What's been the program in AK?
We're here with Alaskan Heli Skiing Guides and they obviously know the area. They help us find zones and then we decide where we want to go. The challenge right now is finding places where there aren't too many clouds and the visibility is better. The guides told us that we skied some new stuff the other day but you never know for sure up here; there are so many people in Alaska flying around. We're not just looking for brand new zones, though. We're trying to find zones that look good.
Was it a difficult decision to leave FWT to film?
I'll lose some points by leaving the Freeride World Tour and everything right now is tight on the tour. I'm not sure if I can get in the top five overall this year, but it's not the most important thing for me. My goal is always to have fun with skiing and when I watched the movies MSP has been making the last few years, it always looked fun. So, my decision was made as soon as I got the opportunity. For me it was clear to come over here.
What's your plan for the rest of season?
My biggest focus is on Verbier [the final stop of the Freeride World Tour]. If I get to compete in the final at Verbier I really want to do well. I skied Bec de Rosses last year and didn't have one of my best experiences. I hope this year we have more snow than last year because there are so many great options and great lines when there's snow. After that, I get to put the competitions to the side to work on projects around Zermatt where I'll be skiing some bigger mountains. I also might be going to Georgia to ski Mount Elbrus.