After weeks on my own navigating the native land from Haines to Valdez I drifted south and landed in the relatively safe haven of Juneau, Alaska. There are stoplights in this town, buildings upwards of two stories and evidence of an intelligent local population; a stark contrast to the grey mud and ashy snow of Valdez to the North. Here my quarters would be amongst the super evolved Absinthe Crew (www.absinthe-films.com) or a good part thereof: Gigi Ruf, Travis Rice, Jules Reymond, Marc Frank, and JP Solberg along with filmer David Vladyka and Absinthe founder Justin Hostynek. They had been posted up for weeks finishing filming for this seasons offering, NEVERLAND, and invited me along for the ride.
an agent for Snowboard Magazine my exact mission for meeting up with
Absinthe was to finish up an interview with one of the riders slated
for print later this fall. My arrival signaled the tail end of filming
season in Alaska, and fortunate for me I was able to go shred with the
crew the final two days of their season. With a 2-3 day window of blue
skies and warm temps a mad panic ensued with hopes of getting that one
last shot. If I were any kind of photographer I could present some
evidence confirming that, yes, they got it done, however, my skills lie
not in capturing the moment but in forgetting to charge the battery to
my camera. Being altogether too distracted by everything going down to
bother with capturing some bush league photo that does the riders and
the terrain no justice it would have been a failed attempt otherwise. I
opted to take some drops with the guys instead.
Justin Hostynek and Marco setting up a shot.
guess here is where I try to give you the play by play of what went
down and who did what––not gonna happen. All I can do to accurately
convey this level of riding is to say that you may think you have seen
some great snowboarding go down in your day, but until you have seen
Travis and Gigi ride lines in AK, the rest is some Micky Mouse shit.
Those guys are so commanding and on top of their game it is going to
take years for the next wave of riders to even begin to challenge what
they are doing right now. And until you have seen JP, Marco and Jules
nail 100-foot ravine gaps with hidden crevasses in the landing zones
you are still in fanboy fantasyland. These guys deserve some serious
here is the part where I am supposed to articulate what it is like to
actually ride in AK. Well, again, sorry… it can’t be described. What
happens is: You go there, wet your pants, cry yourself to sleep at
night and realize you haven’t the first clue about snowboarding. .
Basically, there is what you have come to learn about snowboarding from
the media and through your own experiences and then there is this...
something you cannot even fathom unless you experience it. End of story.
after those couple days Mother Nature brought a quick halt to any
riding on and around the Juneau Ice Field. The high temperatures and
blazing sun cooked everything; no aspect held anything resembling
powder and hot-slides were cracking off anywhere and everywhere. Not
cool, not safe… Even Travis, whose drive is stronger than 10 average
pro riders, struggled to accept that he couldn’t go out and “scare
himself” (loose translation: cheat death) and eventually went with his
gut, calling it quits for the season.
It is just mental to
think that just days ago conditions could not have been better and now
it is done… no question about it. That's Alaska for ya! Check in for
part 2 of my trip and see what the guys get up to when the boots are
hung up for the season and the sun shines on Juneau.
Needles to say, I learned a few things about a place they call The Last Frontier and the creatures that thrive in this environment. As a service to the snowboarding public I have put together a quiz to test your knowledge of AK and the Absinthe Crew.
1. Helicopters are what?
d. Fucking insane
e. All of the above
2. T Rice, Gigi, Marco, Jules and JP riding together equal what?
a. A session
b. A posse
d. Some next level shit
3.Travis Rice rides with?
d. An extra large backpack specially designed to carry his balls.
4. Alaskan terrain would best be described as?
a. On par with Breck
b. Double Black Diamondbacks
5. Jules Reymond is?
7. JP Solberg rides what kind of board?
8. Gigi Ruf is slang for which popular phrase?
a. Go GO Gadget Roof
b. Chocholate Chip Oreo Sunday
c. WHAT THE FUCK!!!
Answers will be given in part two of the story..