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Explore Alaska's Waves with Scott Reierson of Alaska Surf Guides

Listen on: Spotify | Apple | Google | Breaker | Overcast | Radio Public | Pocket Cast | Stitcher

Have you been wanting to surf the cool and awesome waves in Alaska? Same here, bro!

In this episode, I got the chance to talk to Scott Reierson, the owner and operator of Alaska Surf Guides, and he's here to let you know of the amazing surf adventures that are waiting for all of us in Alaska and his journey on how he was able to make his passion and dream become a reality.

Alaska Surf Guides focuses on remote surf trips exploring Alaska’s waves. Based out of Seward, Alaska, they use helicopters (heli surfing) & boats (boat surfing) to access remote surf breaks in Alaska for half-day adventures and multi-day expeditions.

Social Media Profiles:

Topics covered:

  • How far is Alaska?
  • When did you start going there?
  • What is the water temperature?
  • What is the surf season? Winter? Summer?
  • What’s the local scene like?
  • The waves look insane?
  • What are the waves typically like?
  • Critters on land and sea?
  • The last frontier?
  • Let's talk about the trips. Heli Trip? Boat Trip?
  • Describe your first surfboard?
  • What is the best wave you have surfed?
  • Your favorite surf trip?
  • Did we miss anything?

Location: Alaska

Transcripts

Saltwater High! Today, I have an old friend, no, has a new friend named Scott and he is an expert on surfing in Alaska and I can't wait to talk to him. How are you doing, Scott?

Oh, I'm doing great. I'm doing great. I don't know quite about the expert, but I have fun, that's for sure. So I'm excited to be here.

Having fun is expert level, in my opinion.

Yeah. Yeah, I guess that's true.

So are you Canadian or what's your delio?

No, man, I'm Alaskan. So, yeah, we're still part of the States, Derek, or just a really distant portion of it.

So are you in Alaska right now? I knew Alaska was part of the States, but I could hear kind of a little bit of an accent in your voice.

Oh, that's awesome. No, I don't know. I didn't think I had any accent. Actually, somebody told me one time that was my accent, that there was nothing. So who knows, I might have picked something up in my travels.

Maybe you're hanging out with those Alaskan girls too much and Canadians slip in there.

Yeah, I was hanging out too close to Canada down there. I was in Southeast for a couple of months, so who knows? I was pretty close to Canada.

Nice, bro. Nice. Yeah, man. So tell me about Alaska. I have to admit, I've never been, I've been all over the world and it just looks like such a beautiful place.

Yeah, it's unreal today. I'm on the coast here in Seward and that's 2 hours south of Anchorage, which is our biggest city. It's phenomenal today. I'm just kind of blown away. We got a little dusting of snow and we just have 4000-foot mountains right off the water. So I feel super lucky every day to be able to see this stuff. And then, yeah, I get to go play in it, too. That's the other thing, is getting out and recreating in it.

So just to give people a perspective, I think it's about a 6-hour flight from L.A., more or less?

Yeah, I think something like that. Right. Just 5 and some change and then like 3 and a half or something out of Seattle. So Alaska Airlines, Delta, everybody makes the trip now. So pretty feasible for getting up here.

Yeah, I always take Alaska when I go south, so I'll have to take it up north one of these days and see what the other side of the world is like.

Yeah, yeah. No, it's pretty unreal. The flights are amazing. If you get a clear day and you get to see a lot of the coastal mountain ranges on your way up. That's just icing on the cake if that happens.

Yeah. Now, did you grow up there or are you a transplant, or how did that all go down?

Yeah, no, I actually grew up here in Seward. It's kind of a rarity, I guess. Not a lot of people stick around, I guess after they go through school and kind of get out on their own. But I think growing up here kind of gave me a crazy appreciation for especially spending time in the mountains. But as I got older and got into surfing, there's like most days a week where you can either be snowboarding or surfing and sometimes on the same day. So, yeah, I feel stoked.

And what does a surf check look like? Are you tracking northwestern storms? What does the swell window look like? All of that.

Yeah. We're right now in this really intense storm cycle that's really cool. Sometimes the storms are just barely missing us so we're getting a continuation of that cold weather and that brings a lot of snow. And then on the occasion that we take a head-on hit from one of these big storms coming over from the Aleutians and from Japan, I think earlier this year I saw some 28, 30 something foot on the Buoy. And that kind of translates where I'm at, not nearly that size, but still we're getting longer period, 16 and 18 foot swells, which is really, really awesome, really rare. Kind of where we're at and the way the storm cycles work here, it's a counterclockwise system. So a lot of it, it's affected by local weather. We don't quite get that super long period swell. And so, yeah, it's amazing to kind of get some of that swell pushing in. But yeah, as far as the swell check goes, just Live Buoy, Live NOAA Buoy area marine forecast and a lot of luck. There's no webcams or swell watch or local forecast or anything like that. But I still think that's kind of one of the things that makes surfing up here so special.

Yeah, what kind of mileage would you have to put in to say you're going to go out for a surf? Are you driving a couple hours in that day to find waves or taking a boat? What does that look like?

Yeah, so that's like one of the bigger challenges with Alaska is that we're a huge state, but we have probably close to no coastal access by road, I mean outer coastal access. There's a lot of inland stuff as far as like fjords and sounds and things like that. And to get to the outer coast, you have pretty much got to take a boat. And that's kind of how I got into starting Alaska Surf Guides. It was the fact that it's like man, that's our hugest challenges, coastal access. So what ways can we either make it fast and efficient or super fun and exciting and that's kind of where the helicopters and boats came in. And yeah, it's an adventure every single time. But definitely, that's kind of part of the journey is just getting to the swell, which is super gratifying and something that I continue to be stoked on almost every trip.

Yeah, I was checking out some of the pictures, man. It just looks insane. I guess probably the question in a lot of people's minds, and this is the main one in my mind when I was thinking about a surf trip up there is what's the water temperature?

Yeah, no, I get that regularly. That's awesome. And most people are pleasantly surprised. I'm not going to lie. The wintertime is yeah, it's pretty miserable, but I'm sure it is in a lot of snowy places, the water's probably I think it gets down. I think this area probably gets down to about 40, sometimes 38. And that would be on the colder spectrum. So kind of where we're at is known for being in the early days was developed because it was the southernmost ice report. We're mild temperatures. We get a lot of rain even in the wintertime. That's another reason why we kind of take a break from December to the end of February. Of course, the winter sports are really fun and it's time to focus on that and do a little diversity. But then there's also it's just kind of miserable, you know what I mean? You can't really facilitate an awesome experience for people when they're bone-chilling cold. So, yeah, you get like 40 in the wintertime and then summertime, we've seen some close to 60, regular summertime. July, August is like 56. It's pretty medium. Like high.

Yeah, that's what I surfed today here in Ventura, California. It was 56. I can handle that, dude. I can handle that. Yeah.

Yeah. And wetsuits now are insane, right? I think that's the biggest thing that people still have a hard thing comprehending is that you keep blowing away. There's based model suits that are phenomenal. But then there's companies I don't know, I've been working with a company called Isurus and they're producing super high-end suits. I'm wearing a 5.4 now, even in the wintertime, because they're using copper-infused technology. And it's just crazy just how far suits have come even in the last 5 years.

It's amazing and I know a lot of 'grams probably they're trying to scrape together some money for good suit, but you got to get a good suit. Spend the extra couple hundred bucks, because if you're not warm, you're not going to surf well. You're just going to have a shitty session. So I always try to push my buddies into the nicer suits because you just got to be warm. You've got to be comfortable, right?

Yeah. It's insane. If you're taking shots in the head and you can't feel your fingers and toes, you're going to lose that battle pretty quickly. But if you're smiling and warm the whole time, you can definitely take a little more of a beating.

Yeah. So you're not necessarily, in the summer, wearing hoods and gloves and booties?

No.

I mean 56.

Yeah, exactly. I try to get away. I try to not wear gloves in the summertime. It's one of my guilty pleasures that's just feels totally different surfing without gloves. And I don't exactly dislike wearing gloves. It's just kind of a fun thing to do. It's again, not exactly warm and by the end of it, you're having a fun time trying to get your suit off with sometimes numb fingers. But it is fun. Especially on a sunny day, it is really nice. And a lot of people, yeah, summertime they're peeling their hoods off. All the suits that I have for my trips are all 5.4. So if you're sweating, you can always peel the hood off or take the gloves off. Your feet are always in the water so I don't know too many people who are trying to go without booties.

Yeah. And what's the local scene like? Do you have, you probably have a group of buddies you go with, but you roll up, and are you guys the only one's kind of checking in or what does that look like?

Yeah, for the summertime stuff, there's I don't know, it's not exactly the huge, bigger wave season. And a lot of people are working hard during the summertime. A lot of people up here in tourism or in fishing.

Right, logging.

Yes. So everybody's kind of got their head down and they're just sort of working in the summertime. And a lot of the boats here, too, are doing charter fishing or sightseeing or whale watching cruises. So, yeah so that stuff kind of gets limited as far as getting to the coast and people being available to do trips. But yeah, the surf scene in Alaska is super funny. Because I get that question kind of often, but I would love to always explain it as our surf culture is that there is no culture. It's so low key. And I don't know how many people identify as a surfer up here because everybody's just into so much fun outdoor activity that it's kind of on the sense of if it's the day to go and you have the day off, they all kind of comes together. You would hope that the swell comes together, too. But there's just so much to do in outdoors up here. Sometimes it's hard to bank on. On surfing, especially like we talked about, with the access being difficult, and with that comes a higher price on each trip and a long commute even to start the trip. So a lot of guys are driving 2, 3 hours to get here, and then it's a 1-hour or 2-hour boat ride out to the surf, and only takes one or two of those getting skunked to put a damper on things.

Yeah. Full day commitment then when you're coming from Anchorage or somewhere.

Yeah, absolutely.

Yeah. Wow. And what about critters in the wall? It's funny because we saw a great white today down here. It was a juvenile. But you think of Alaska and you think getting chased by bears on the beaches. And I did a trip to, the furthest I've been north is the northern part of Vancouver Island. So I surfed there and there were killer whales around. There's two types of killer whale. There's one that's super aggressive and there's one that, there's still killer whales, right? They got to be aggressive, but there's one that's less aggressive. And so that's the one that's kind of in that area. But what kind of animals are in the water, on the land?

Yeah, yeah. Definitely we have orcas for sure. But, yeah I guess primarily the ones you'll see are harbor seals or sea otters. Definitely, harbor seals are super curious, always kind of staring at you and they hang around quite a bit even just in the break and catch a couple of waves for themselves. But then there's kind of the bigger animals that are out there that are a little more intimidating are steller sea lions. And they're essentially like a beefed-up grizzly bear in the water with flippers on. They get up to a couple of thousand pounds and they're just super nimble in the water for being so huge.

Is that like an elephant seal? Or is that different?

Yeah, I think they're definitely different than an elephant seal, I think.

Okay.

Yeah, I think they're still on the endangered species list. Definitely worth having a look at. But yeah, they're impressive and sometimes they'll roll in groups during mating season and there will be 10 of them kind of just coming to scope you out. And if you're surfing alone, it's definitely more intimidating than if you have a couple of buddies with you. But that's rare. They're just minding their own business. They just want to see what you are and then they kind of move on. So, yeah, on the land, on some of my trips, I've seen kind of really cool stuff. I've seen mountain goats down on the beach, that's so wild. It's a very rare thing to see. So and then, yeah, lots of black bears, coastal black bears around here. But most of the time, every animal out there sort of just wants to check you out and then go about their business and move on.

Yeah, wow. And the waves, it looked like there was from the pictures I saw, there was kind of some point break, some beach break. Can you tell us a little about some of the waves that you have access to?

Yeah. Out of Seward, in this area, there's quite a few fun sort of Sandy River mouth that change a lot. But then we also have some cool cobblestone point breaks. And yeah, I think that's kind of the fun part. A lot of the geology is kind of nuts because we have the glacial fjords, the Kenai Fjords National Park. And there's a couple of point breaks in the park that are they're only formed within the last 200 years when the glacier stops. And it's kind of unloading this conveyor belt of gravel and rocks that are trapped up in the glacier and create these marines. Yeah, it's really impressive. And that's some of the best point breaks around this area were kind of created by these glaciers. I would call that somewhat recent compared to probably a lot of other rock formations. But yeah, super cool. And then there's other parts of the state. Alaska is so big that there's like you go out west, we run trips down there on the Milo surfboat down in the Shumagin Islands, which is just nuts. It's a cold water, mental wise. It's all pretty young, volcanic islands down there. And that stuff is..

Wow.

Yeah, there's a lot of really good point breaks out of that area and just, yeah, phenomenal. There's a lot of really insane stuff to see in the state, but I feel like I just scratched the surface on so it's exciting.

Yeah. And how did you get the idea for Alaska Surf Tours? Just stoked on surfing and want to share it with other people? That sounds familiar.

Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. That's yeah, I think that's kind of one of the things that is more gratifying than I expected. But I got to admit in the beginning it was just the fact that I really wanted to kind of wanted to start a business and I was excited about that. But I also had to kind of dial-in. I just did a lot of reading about, like, "Oh yeah, you need to start a business that you're passionate about it." And I also was like, man, I'm so challenged with getting to the waves. That access is always going to be the biggest challenge. And I tried to think of a way that I could surf more and I could share that with people. And yes, honestly, it has never, and probably I can say it will never be about actually generating a paycheck and income. More or less it's just about getting the surf and getting to explore and experience more of the state because that's just been an unreal portion of it and super gratifying.

Awesome. And the trips look totally affordable, too. Anybody that's out there, please go to the Alaska Surf Guide site and check them out. It look really, really sick. There's a boat trip and a heli trip. How do the two differ? Going to different places or?

Yeah, yes. So, yeah, the helicopter stuff definitely that was the initial. Started out doing the flight trips and I honestly, I don't know how that really got developed. I think it was through a series of things that trial and error. But I just remember now I'm like, "Man, I try to think of the coolest thing I could do in a day. And it would be flying a helicopter to go surf, fly over glaciers and mountaintops and see wildlife." And just really fast sensory overload is what I like to say a lot of the time because you're just at a hundred miles an hour. You're just getting this megadose of Alaska and then all of a sudden you're hopping out and suiting up and getting to surf. So that's really fun.

It's such a killer idea, dude. I love it.

Yeah, it's nuts. Every time, I'm still stoked that I get butterflies almost every trip. That's so fun. But yeah so that's kind of the big thing is the helicopter stuff is for the quick day trip because we're still traveling. I think it's 30 miles each way.

Okay.

So in a boat, depending on the boat, roughly you're looking at in a fast boat, you're looking at it like hour and a half, 2 hours each way. And we're able to do that in 15 minutes, 16 minutes each way and, yeah, and get a flight out of it. And some of the time, it's tough to be in a boat when the surf is good.

Oh, dude. Tell me about it.

There's a little more turbulence. You get a lot of eye candy when you're flying. You get to see a lot of different breaks and it's cool. So that's kind of the paraphrased version of the flight stuff is that it's like you can do it in a day. I could knock out a 6-hour trip that gives us almost 4 hours in the water.

It's amazing.

Lots of surfing and yeah. And then the boat stuff sick too, because it's totally different. A lot of the time minimum, we're trying to do 6-day trips just because it's just the farther you get out away from the towns, just the more intense and the more beautiful Alaska gets and the more time you get to spend in the water at these breaks. But yeah, a lot of the stuff I've been working with Mike, Captain Mike and Wendy on the Milo, and that's been a great experience for me. And I really have enjoyed like we spent 2 months down in Southeast Alaska here running a series of trips and we surfed. And I think we're at a total 70 days we were on these trips or something like that. Starting being late September and we surfed 81 sessions or something like that.

Dude!

Yeah, it was pretty nuts. And of course, some days are waist high and some days are smacking. And so yeah, it was cool, man. And so the boat really just gives you range and you can get really, really remote. We surfed this really sweet island that sticks out that's really been on my bucket list for, I don't know, 5 or more years. And just super insane to go there, first of all, but then explore and figure out that there is a really fun wave there. So that's a lot of the time. It's just being there and you can speculate a lot, but you really have to go and kind of experience it and put in that time and see it through a tide cycle and get lucky of course with some good swell. But yeah, the boat is nuts. The access it gives you, the freedom to go just tracking storms in real-time and kind of going and trying to pinpoint spots and get everybody on the waves.

Are you guys pulling up to ports along the way when you can, or is it just everyone's on the boat and everyone's off the boat when it gets back sort of thing?

Yeah, yeah. It really just depends. We can go, I think, roughly 10 to 12 days with up to 6 passengers, up to 6 surfers. And then you have the captain and 2 crew and everybody. You sleep everybody on the boat. There's 20 something boards on the boat, all sorts of wetsuits, paddleboards, everything. And we can go I think there's over a thousand gallons of fresh water storage on there. And that's kind of the biggest hurdle. So if we're going to do like a 2-week trip, if we're able to sneak into port and get some water, then everybody don't have to be so I guess taking such short showers, because that's the other cool thing about it, is it's got a hot shower on deck after you get out of the water. So yeah, it's pretty nice to have that extra 20 seconds of hot shower filling your wetsuit up with hot water. So, yeah, that's always a benefit.

Yeah, that wave you have on the boat page looked sick, the one at the very top.

Yeah.

Looks like it's such a fun wave. Yeah.

Yeah, absolutely. Oh man, I can't really say which one's my favorite because I think each one's unique. And then there's the whole thing about the background, the setting, and the journey to get there. And a lot of that stuff just kind of goes into play.

Yeah, a lot of the bro time with your buddies.

Yeah.

Yeah. People, of course we love surf trips for the surf, but there's everything that happens around the trip that also makes it fantastic. I kid my wife that I live from surf trip to surf trip and she always says, "Well, what about me?"

That's awesome.

That gets me there. It gets me in between sessions.

Yeah. No, it is. I'm saying I love to joke and talk about Alaska. It's more than just a surf trip.

Yeah.

And sometimes, it's just crazy how different each trip can be and what can make the trip so fun. A lot of the times, of course, it's the people on the trip. I think a majority of the time it's the people in the trip and surfing bringing rad people together. And especially I think there's a bit of a vetting process that just in general, Alaska surfing attracts.

Oh, yeah.

Probably, yeah.

There's a big hurdle.

Yeah, exactly. So I think it's in its own right, it does a lot of the vetting, and then it's just cool, man. The people that come out of it and the friendships I guess too, that's pretty rad. And each trip's so nuts. Sometimes you'll see just a pod of orcas and humpbacks and all this great marine life. And then other times it's just huge calving glaciers and bears. And yeah, every trip is so different. I think even I'm still saying every trip being different so pretty stoked on that variety.

How are you guys finding customers? Are you doing advertisements? Besides, kind of word of mouth, I'm sure people are so stoked on the trips they tell all their buddies. But are you doing any kind of outreach or advertising or anything like that?

Yeah, I think primarily I would say the majority of it's been Instagram over the last few years and just kind of...

Nice.

Yeah. Trying to keep fun, trying to document this stuff and let people kind of get some insight into it because it's kind of funny, it's one of those things where it's like and we laugh about this on the boat because I bring a camera along. I'm not a photographer. I'll be first and foremost to tell everybody that I'm not a photographer, I'm not a videographer. I love capturing some of the stuff and getting it out. But also, I'm a surfer. I see the waves, I see it's smacking, I'm not getting my camera gear ready, I'm getting my wetsuit on and get in my board and trying to be first in the water because yeah, you got to get it while it's good.

Yeah.

And so it's so funny. I'm slowly making that transition into realizing that you need to get some sort of stuff captured. But, man, it is hard to be on the beach when it's cranking out there and everybody's catching bombs.

Absolutely, dude. Absolutely agree with you.

Yeah. So slowly getting into some stuff. I got a drone this year and been putting together a couple of edits with that.

Oh, nice. What'd you get? What kind?

I just got a Phantom 3.

Okay, cool.

And honestly, the reason I was like, "Man, I'm a rookie. I'm a rookie pilot." I love saying that. It's pretty funny, but I'm a rookie with it. But also I know this thing is going to go in the drain. Mechanical devices fail and I'm going to lose this thing. And so I wanted to do just buy one that was 300 bucks or 350 bucks.

Yeah, just practice with it.

I'm getting all of that out of it. So it's been awesome. It's been really fun. Like a kid playing with a toy.

Yeah.

So yeah.

Oh, go ahead.

Oh, I was just going to say yeah, I use that stuff on Instagram.

Nice. Your page looks great. It's pretty good.

Oh, thank you. Yeah. I guess I just get excited on, like I said, sharing stuff with people and trying to keep some diversity on there and lots of different things to show people. But yeah, I guess I try to work on getting a little more into photography, but like I said, I'm a frother so first and foremost I try to be in the water.

Nice. Have you approached any of those, there's a couple of sites that do surf travel around the world and then they'll probably take a cut, right? See what is one of them I'm thinking on.

Yeah.

Yeah, Waterways. That's the one I was thinking or Wave Hunters.

Yeah.

Those dudes. I wonder if you reach out to those guys.

Those are great, man. I think that those are so sweet for bringing people coverage and exposure. But as far as myself and I don't know, I can't speak for Mike, but as far as myself, honestly, my margins are so low because I want to keep it affordable so I can have more trips to have fun. And so, yeah, a commission cut like a 15 percent commission cut that actually might put me in the red on the trip.

Yeah, dude.

So yeah. And I'm so low volume, that's kind of been in my philosophy in the whole thing is that I don't want to turn it into, I don't want to say a job, but I don't want to turn it into this high-frequency thing all the way from the beginning. I just wanted to have enough trips to keep myself having fun. And that was kind of the thing. I never had a vision to create a corporation or a company. That's too busy.

Yeah, you're too busy to surf today. A lot of my buddies that are kind of grinding out, I call them, they go, "Oh, dude, I'm too busy." I was like, "Dude, you work so hard to take trips and then you're too busy to take the trip. And then you're you're depressed." And I'm like, "Just come out and surf. That'll make everything right. Don't wait. There's no waiting."

Yeah. I think I try to find that balance there. I think that's kind of what you're talking about too, is that you can either work an expensive or work a well-paying job that maybe it's not your favorite, to afford the trip so you can work a job doing the trips that doesn't make that money, but you're getting to do the trip. So I think for me, it's kind of trying to find that balance and stay happy.

Have you seen, I took this trip, I went to Sumatra last year and I went to the very top island. It's Sinhalese, which is just above, it's the last island in the Sumatran chain. So it's way out there, dude. And there's a couple surf camps, they're all Australians because the Australians figured out Indo a long time ago. But I was amazed at the amount of trash that I saw in these super desolate places. So have you seen any changes in plastic rolling up onto the beach or trash? Or do you think Alaska is probably the last frontier of cleanliness on the planet?

I don't know about that. And I did go to Bali back like 2011. And, yeah, I was kind of blown away. I know exactly what you're talking about. I remember walking the beach to what I thought was the greatest right-hand point break I'd ever been to and seeing syringes in the sand. And, yeah, that was eye opening. But Alaska, we're not exempt. The ocean just has huge currents. And so regardless of whether we're polluting, we're getting tons of plastic water bottles. I think that's the repeat offender is definitely plastic water bottles, but lots of buoys, lots of trash. I don't want to say all of it's from Japan, but there's a good portion of it that has...

Has come over, yeah.

Yeah

Because that's pretty much directly across the Japanese islands, right?

Yeah, all the way up the Aleutian chain, pretty much down at the end of the Aleutian chain there is it's exactly. And they had some big tsunamis. And I think a lot of that, a lot of people kind of equate that to that devastation from those tsunamis. But then there's also really interesting stuff. You have these container ships that cross over, back and forth, probably to Japan or to China. And they're shipping lanes. They're cutting across the Gulf and they get caught in these storms and a Conex goes overboard and busts open. I know a lot of people who have dozens of these little orange basketballs because the whole Conex, the orange basketballs went over. So it's really funny. I've been to a few different places along the Gulf now and found these orange basketballs at a lot of different beaches. So there's also that kind of stuff.

Wow.

Yeah, I found piles of tennis shoes. It's crazy the amount of stuff that ends up in the water and floating around.

Right. If the container goes overboard and opens up. Yeah.

Yeah, it's pretty nuts.

And what's the ecological scene? Alaskans in general, because they live so close to such a beautiful place, they're probably naturally thinking about ecology, I would assume.

Yeah. I think probably like most places, there's a huge balance of people. I think if you live along the water or you're into some sort of sustainable industry, like commercial fishing, I know a lot of commercial fishermen now and even sport fishermen who are really into conservation and the biology of the returns of the fish and stuff. And so now I think people are getting more in tune with that side of the industries. And that's really cool to see. So I think yeah, I think that's been a big change in the last few years as far as that perspective goes.

That's awesome. That's awesome. Cool, dude. Describe to me your first surfboard.

Oh, man.

Yeah.

Ooff, that's a good one. My first surfboard, I think, I kind of started and I went to New Zealand to do the Endless Winter, I think.

Nice!

That was like 2011 and had a blast over there. Ended up working for a guy who ended up being the lifeguard president dude for his club and he ended up setting me up and I bought a board from one of his buddies and it was like I think he even told me, "You shouldn't get that." And I was like, "No, I want to be like a shortboard shredder." I think everybody sees that photo and is like, "I'm going to be that. I could do that."

Yeah. The next Slater.

Yeah, I bought this board, and just most people, they just paddle it because they're not actually going to catch anything. And I paddled it, paddled it, never caught a wave, I think, for like 2 weeks. And I ended up going back to Alaska and went to Hawaii with it because my sister was living there and finally wised up and traded it. Plus some money for this awesome, I still have it, it's like an 8'0, it's essentially a thruster, but it's an 8'0 and it's such a unique board. But I think I ride it in like overhead and knee-high. It really doesn't matter. I think I have fun with it.

Awesome.

Yeah. So I think that was a good trade. Good move.

So the first one was like a 6'0 potato chip thruster, pocket rocket.

Yeah, not even a potato chip. Like high perf, probably an inch and 3/8 or like left. It was some dude's dial board and I was like, "Oh yeah. I could definitely ride that."

Yeah.

Yeah. But I think that's fun. I'm glad I learned that lesson because I can share that with everybody and be like, "Listen, just get the 8'0 or the 9'0 and you'll learn to surf faster than I did."

Absolutely, absolutely. So what's the best wave you've ever surfed? I know it's a hard question, but first thing that come into mind.

Yeah. Oh man! I don't know, I think one that really stands out to me was on my birthday last 2 years ago now down in the Shumagin Islands, which is the base of the Aleutian Islands, we surfed this right-hand point break. But it was sick. It was definitely head higher. Probably a couple of feet overhead. And really hard to realize from the boat how long the wave actually went because it was at the base of this cliff and the cliff was probably, I don't know, 300+ feet, maybe 400+ and hard to get a scale for the area. And then you get in the water, you get over there, you get into one of these waves and you just keep riding and riding and riding and then you ride it all the way in, almost up to the cliff. You look back out and it's unreal how far away you are from where you started. And so, yeah, that was just like such a humbling experience, being like, "Oh, man." Just when you think you've surfed in some big country, you get to a spot like that and it's just yeah, way to feel small real quick.

Amazing, bro. Amazing. Your favorite surf trip.

Oh, no! That's such a tough one.

There you go. I know, bro. I know.

I think, man, I don't know, I had a pretty sweet experience this summer, and it's funny to say that it was on a flat day and that's pretty rare. Yeah, I don't know if anybody's ever answered that way, but we ended up going over to the fjords, the glacial fjords here, Kenai Fjords National Park. It's pretty heavy, it's pretty unreal. It's just like massive mountains right out of the water and glaciers everywhere. And so we went over there on the Milo and I don't know if anybody's familiar or has seen or heard about glacier surfing where you pretty much wait in the lineup and it's flat calm and you're just waiting for these like skyscraper-sized chunks of ice to blast off the glacier and displace the water. And yeah, I think we were there for, my very first time ever doing it, and we were in the water for probably like an hour and a half. And this, I don't know, just the perfect scenario. This mega chunk breaks off and kicks up like a head high, probably maybe a foot or 2 overhead wave. And it's pretty insane. It's just hectic. You're thinking to yourself, like, "Oh, what did I do?" I must be way too close to this thing because it just seems like chaos. There's ice just blasting out of the water and yeah, it's pretty nuts. And then all of a sudden it gets calm for a second and then this wave starts to grow and I just ended up being in the absolute pocket, just perfect, and caught this thing and got a huge ride out of it and got some totally blurry bigfoot style photos of it. But I was so, so pumped on it and still probably living on the high of that.

That's amazing. So it must just reverberate out into open water, I guess, right? Away from the glacier.

Totally. And it's the same scenario as a wave. Like you still have to have a break. There's a river over there and so there's pretty much a sandbar. And a lot of the fjords are super deep, I don't know, other spots that are 500 feet in there because a lot of it is just vertical. A lot of what's under the water is what you're seeing above the water in that area. So that just so happen to be a spot where there's a lot of glacial sediment that's built up and been moved around by the rivers and the glaciers. So, yeah, it's almost the exact same thing as a break, like an open ocean break. It's just facing a glacier. So it's yeah, pretty mind-blowing and really a game of luck. Yeah.

And cojones.

Yeah, I felt super, super lucky, man and I still feel lucky. It was so cool.

Yeah. That's amazing, bro. So awesome to talk to you, man. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. Is there anything else you want to tell the Saltwater High people besides "Get your butts up to Alaska for a trip."

Yeah, yeah. No, Alaska's I don't know, I would just say keep enjoying surfing, try out a wetsuit. You might kind of blow your mind on what's capable and if you're like most people and one of the things that's nice is surfing without crowds. I've been doing this for a few years now, and I can tell you that it's the difficulty of it is going to keep the crowds down. So if you find yourself want to kind of put in that work and go surf somewhere with minimal people and high amounts of fun and a crazy atmosphere, I would say, come check Alaska out.

Amazing. I think that's one of my main criteria now when I'm thinking about a surf trip. I've surfed really great waves, but now I just don't want to surf with a bunch of crowds. I would rather surf a mediocre wave with my bro's somewhere awesome, like Alaska or wherever than 50 guys out it in Bali at one of the main breaks. So I think you got something amazing going up there. And hopefully, I'll make it up one of these days and I can buy a beer before the trip or after.

Yeah, man. That's the funny thing. I think Alaska probably has, I bet it's just cranking and sick like way more than we think up here. That's the funny thing. It's just if you look at the amount of times people actually get out, the frequency somebody's out at a break surfing and with a camera, I think those numbers are just totally different. And so it's so funny. I surfed, I'm not going to do any saying world class because I'm not a super fan of that term, but surfed some really, really, really sick waves and just for hours on end. It's so sick. But I love putting photos of that stuff, but I also love being realistic with people and being like, man, I surfed onshore and waist-high but it's still sick to see whales, mountains, you know what I mean? There's just so much to see and do up here in addition to wave hunting that it's definitely a lot of fun.

Awesome. All right, guys, alaskasurfguides.com on the internet and also I think that's your handle on Instagram, too. We'll have it in the show notes. And yeah, dude. I appreciate coming on the podcast.

Yeah. Thanks for having me and glad to be here. Thanks for the interview. Thank you, everybody.

Yeah, bro. Yeah, man. See you.

All right. Take care.

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