ADVENTURES TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN

The Unhooked snowkite team never stop exploring

Photos + Video

Avid snowkiters Ronny and Patrick met well over 12 years ago while shredding up the snow in their home spot in Switzerland. Patrick instantly caught Ronny’s attention after he pulled off a couple of massive jumps so effortlessly without even wearing a helmet. He thought to himself ˝who is that guy and why don’t I know him already ˝. Little did Ronny know but Patrick had been watching him in awe earlier that day as he was landing 720 grabs from a height of 6-7m.  Since their first encounter a level of mutual respect and a lifetime of crazy adventures has continued to grow as they constantly push each other to the limits in the exploration of the endless new kitespots Switzerland has to offer.

 

In the early beginnings of their exploring, a simple map and Google Earth became their best friends as they ventured to far and hidden locations. They soon realized that Switzerland was full of snowkiting gems; locations so perfect for setting up the kites and tearing up the fresh, untouched snow. For over ten years almost every weekend was spent heading out to find new unchartered spots, creating their own source for the perfect location. It was not long before the boys caught the eye of the Ozone Kites team who welcomed them on board as team riders and kite testers. Their valuable feedback has gone into the creation and progression of Ozone’s impressive snowkite range, Ozone’s working ethos of being driven by the elements resonates with their riding style.

 

THE BIRTH OF UNHOOKED

 

These guys not wanting to be selfish decided they should share their awesome wealth of knowledge that they had accumulated over years and years of trial and error, of traipsing across the unbeaten tracks to unearth the best routes and accesses. In 2008 the duo founded Unhooked.ch, initially to offer clear and up-to-date spot reports that naturally progressed into a full on spot guide. As of today their guide includes over 100 of the best kitesurfing and snowkiting spots Switzerland has to offer. The guides include very detailed information of the locations and amenities as well as of course a daily forecast.

 

The Unhooked.ch webpage fast became the most popular site for kiters in Switzerland and neighboring countries. Every day more than 1000 people access the site to inform themselves of new spots and learn from the valuable advice the boys have to offer. As a result the snowkiting scene in Switzerland has grown faster than any country in the world.

 

IN COMES FRESH ENERGY

 

Not wanting to remain stagnant, Ronny and Patrick went on the look out for a young energetic mind that was taking snowkiting to a whole new level. About 5 years ago Ronny came across a talented 16 year-old by the name of Jonas Lengwiler while at a race competition. Ronny instantly recognized his huge potential and sheer drive in progressing the sport. This was the start of another perfect match. Although Jonas lacked their experience in backcountry exploration, he soon caught up to speed, learning from the boys and excelling with his own techniques. Already after the first year together they were on the same level and his youth and ambition pushed the Unhooked guys to new heights.

 

Jonas’ Ride Up challenges are among the best in the world and he became even more renowned after winning the grueling Red Bull Ragnarok in 2017, not an easy feat that’s for sure. This victory spurred on his win to become both 2017 European Champion and VAKE World Champ. That’s not to say Ronny was just sitting back and taking it easy, he too maintained his competitive streak and not wanting to be out shone by the youngsters won the snowkiting world title in 2016.

 

THE SWIS SCENE

 

Driven by many highly skilled riders, snowkiting continues to be very popular in Switzerland and backcountry snowkiting continues to reach new levels. With many kiters exploring Ronny and Patrick’s recommended spots, the guys thought it would be a great idea if they had a way they could record their tracks. With developments in technology this became an obvious solution, first came the Kitetracker.com website which swiftly progressed in to the easy to use Kitetracker mobile app. This is a great way for people to record and share their exact routes, gain immediate access to the spot guides and at the same time spread the information to other riders. With all this experience and knowledge at their fingertips, it’s no wonder that Swiss riders are always achieving podium spots for races like Ragnarok or the World Championships.

 

A GRAND DAY OUT

 

After a fairly long, warm summer the boys were eager to get some snowfall and dust off their skis. Roll on September 2017 and they’d just received a fresh batch of Ozone’s newest snowkite; the Blizzard Ultralight, they were pumped to find some snow and give them a fly and to film their ordeal. However this particilar September proved tricky as everywhere still seemed too green and the glaciers were too dangerous for this time of year. So they racked their brains and consulted their vast encyclopedia of potential spots. After checking and rechecking the wind conditions Ronny had the grand idea to go to the world-famous mount Titlis. Nobody had previously had the idea to tackle Titlis with a kite as there were just no flat surfaces, only a steep mountain with glaciers and columns. However the conditions with westward winds seemed too good not to give it a go.

 

So off they went with their new kites, they were greeted with 20cm of fresh snow and clean 12-20 knots coming from the west. The conditions were fantastic and made an excellent start to an awesome adventure. Not only did they have a blast looping the Blizzard kites to take them further and further up the mountain, each time unveiling the glorious views of Switzerland, they also found fame with the foreign tourists! They could hear shrills off into the distance, without giving it much thought they soon realized it was directed at them. About 700m away they encountered a heard of tourists taking a rest in the mountain lodge. They were screaming and clapping in amazement at the sight of kites and skiers flying vertically up the side of Titlis! The boys were grinning from ear to ear, relishing in their new found fame, giving them a boost of energy. It was a truly unforgettable day on one of the most famous mountains in Europe with a kite that bypassed their expectations. The boys are happy in the knowledge that there are still new spots to be uncovered.

 

THE LOW-DOWN ON RONNY, PATRICK & JONAS

 

- Ronny Bollhalder

One could compare Ronny's personality with that of a bull. If no one disturbs him while he’s resting or eating, everything is fine. But if you hold a red cloth, in the shape of wind and snow in front of his nose - then he starts with his hooves, which hold resemblance to the tires on his Golf, once spinning you should not block his path for he goes flat out. When he is not kiting (rarely!), he tends to like to do two things at once, he teaches sports at two schools and its not uncommon for him to be seen twice on the same podium for ski and boarding snowkite contests. 

 

- Patrick Stahel

Stress is not a common factor in Patrick’s life, unless of course the wind is blowing over 5 knots then it’s all systems go and he’s off to fly his kite, out lost in the wilderness. When he’s not attached to a board, Patrick can be found high up in the sky flying his speed wings. He says he doesn’t dream sessions, he rides them.

 

- Jonas Lengwiler

Experiencing his first taste of snowkite racing at the young age of 13, Jonas is no newbie to the scene. When Ozone took him on as a team rider at 19 he was on a winning streak with the R1 kite and was overjoyed to achieve a record time in the Varanger Arctic Kite Enduro (VAKE) championships in one of the most exposed regions of Norway. He is currently undertaking the mammoth task of crossing the length of Norway from North to South on a kite, that’s about 2000km!

 

THE FYI ON MOUNT TITLIS

 

Titlis is the jewel in Central Switzerland's crown and has the only publicly accessible glacier in the area. The panoramic views from summit are simply breathtaking and at more than 3,000m above sea level there’s always a little patch of snow somewhere! However the main winter sport season is from October to May and there is plenty to do away from the slopes.

 

OZONE’S BLIZZARD ULTRALIGHT

 

The Blizzard is Ozone’s latest addition to the snow kite family. It is purely dedicated for the snow and enhances on a mix of the best features of the previous Frenzy and Summit models. With some all new, high class R&D design, the Blizzard makes it easy for people to have a great time either freeriding or cruising in the snowy backcountry. The Ultralight version offers the maximum performance and enhanced flying characteristics while reducing weight and space for riders who prefer to travel compact. It inflates quicker, launches in lighter winds, flies faster, stays in the air longer in gusty conditions, and is more reactive even in the lightest breeze. It is the kite of choice for those who want to explore

For more info visit the product page: https://ozonekites.com/products/land-snow-kites/blizzard-v1-ultralight/

 

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