EAST WEST: a film.

A rowdy southern hemisphere winter objective completed by an all star team.

EAST WEST follows Janina Kuzma, Anna Smoothy and Ayako Kuroda as they cross New Zealand’s Southern Alps over the Main Divide from East to West starting at the Liebigs and exiting on Fox Glacier.

The film has toured around the world from the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival, and the Women’s Adventure Film Tour in Australia, to IF3 and High Five and the Shades of Winter Festival, and now it’s available here for all to enjoy.

EAST WEST. Photos by Mark Watson


In EAST WEST, we took on a mammoth ski tour from the Liebig Range, across the main divide of NZ’s Southern Alps and out to the west coast. Traveling through tough, but spectacular terrain, we skied lines when the weather permitted and sheltered from storms in rusty alpine huts when Mother Nature insisted. 

This was one of the most challenging but beautiful missions I’ve made in the mountains and it was super sick to share that experience with Ayako and Janina. Janina I have been skiing with since I was a teenager and Ayako I met just a few days before we commenced the trip. For Janina and I, the Southern Alps of New Zealand are looming over our backdoor, this is a wall of remote and wild mountains with no towns, roads, or infrastructure. Access is really difficult because of this, so every peak you want to ski is typically a mammoth journey. 

EAST WEST. by Mark Watson

The weather was incredibly tricky and moved our goalposts a bunch in terms of the objectives we had in mind for skiing. On day one, we were forced to combine two days of ski touring into one, in order to beat a massive storm that was coming in hot. We made it to Kelman hut just before midnight, just as the storm was setting in, there were wind gusts of up to 140km, which meant it was too dangerous to go outside even to go to the bathroom. After a day, the storm eased enough to empty the pee bucket – a really cool job that I received without any tips or tricks – I thought the most logical thing to do is empty it so that the pee and dishwater would fly away in the wind. But my theory did not take into account backdraughts, which meant I got a super fresh splash of miscellaneous pee water in the face – on day 1 of 6. 

I learnt a bunch on that trip, about resilience, safety, how to come together as a team and how NOT to empty a pee bucket. 

EAST WEST. Photos by Mark Watson

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