Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
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Story Features Oneballjay shedders: Blair Habenicht, Matt Edgers, Forrest Burki and Lucas Debari, Enjoy....
Chile is a very long and narrow country, at 2700 miles long and an average of only 109 miles wide it’s a mere ribbon of land strung out along 2/3 of South America. The rugged Pacific coastline runs along the entire west side while the skyscraping Andes mountains flank the majority of the country to the east. With this geography it is easy to see why Chile is becoming a country of “action sport” (or whatever you want call them) enthusiasts. Chile is a surfer and snowboarders dream, and even better if you want to do both.
Along with my friends Blair Habenicht, Lucas Debari and Matt Edgers, I was lucky enough to visit this amazing country last summer (their winter), and was pretty darn pleased with what I found. I had the full kit with me, skateboard, surfboard, snowboard; going for the hat trick, S cubed if you will. And while we planned the trip as mainly a snowboarding endeavor, I’ll have to admit that I was most excited about the surf potential of Chile. Everyone I talked to who had been there spoken highly of the surf, and the photos I found on the interweb agreed, good set-ups and consistent swell awaited.
As far as the snowboarding went, the reports weren’t half bad either. Lucas, the only one in our crew who had been to Chile before, had told us of 2,000 vert road runs that stayed untracked all day. Sounds good to me!
I arrived a week or so after the others ( I had to stay and work so I didn’t come back completely broke), and was given vague instructions on where to find the nomads that I was going to be traveling with for the next month or so. “Take the bus to Chillan” Blair told me. And so after arriving to Santiago, grabbing all my crap, which was basically impossible for me to carry alone: heavy ass snowboard bag, surfboard case with three boards ( I had to bring Blairs’ board too), backpack, duffel, and skateboard, take the bus to Chillan was what I did. That is after getting fleeced by the taxi driver for a ride to the bus station as well his helpers who wanted ten bucks each to help me with my things.
(Always learn the currency of a new country ahead of time, incuding the slang for what they call it, i.e. “buck”)
After the 5 hour ride to Chillan (pronounced Chiyan) I was dumped off at the bus station, and while guarding all my stuff, tried the figure out what the heck to do next. My saving grace was that Lucas had a cell phone, and after borrowing a stranger’s phone, since I couldn’t leave my stuff to walk to the pay phone, and couldn’t carry it all myself, I was able to get ahold of Blair. He told me I needed to continue on to Las Trancas where I could find them “at the Snowpub, or maybe just go the Beta Boardshop, they’ll know where we are.” Ok, how do I get there? Lucky enough the guy who lent me his cell phone happened to be going there too! Him and his two friends were nice enough to help me carry my gear, split a cab with me to the next bus station and get me on the bust to Las Trancas.
My eyes were glued to the window as bus climbed the windy hills. Not because there was that much to look at, but because the bus was so crowded, not even standing room was available. After about an hour and a half I jumped out in front of the snow pub, shuttled my gear through a fresh coat of snow to the door and asked inside if they had seen three gringo snowboarders around lately. Nope they said. “Beta Boardshop?” I asked. Nope. “Phone?” Down the street at the market they said. So I called the cell phone and Lucas answered, I could hear him, but he couldn’t hear me, and just then a trucked passed coming down the mountain with three snowboarders in the back. “It has to be them” I thought as I hung up the phone and chased the after the truck. They stopped about a half mile down the road at the Beta Boardshop, and I was as good as home. It was quite a relief the see the familiar faces after nearly two days of traveling as we exchanged greetings and I met the guys we would be staying with. (who were way to hospitable and fun to hang and ride with)
The small town of Las Trancas is a short drive down from the ski center called Nevados de Chillan, which was formerly named Termas de Chillan after the thermal vents that litter the sides of the Volcano. We spent the next week riding there and it was by far my favorite mountain that we visited, very well rounded. Trees, rolly pollies for jumps, hips and what have you, steeps, and even an air bag to practice your tabletops and Susie Q’s on to.
After three good days there we got shut down by weather and decided to head down to Chillan to buy supplies and check out the public market, which is one of the best in Chile.
In Chillan we loaded up on food, especially langonizas (smoked sausage which is the pride of many Chileans) and as many wool and alpaca beanies and hoodies as we could jam in our packs. We stayed in Las Trancas for a few more days but continued to get shut down by weather. It was snowing up high, but since there are no trees up high and it was raining at tree line and below there was little to ride. Time to move along.
We spent a night in Santiago, which is an interesting city if you can handle the intense smog, then headed up to the resort of El Colorado. A super sketchy one lane road takes you to the mountain, it has something like 35 switchbacks, and to add to the sketchiness of the drive, the tires on the so called ski van we were riding in were balder than a Buhner buzz cut night. Luckily we chained up, but unfortunately the chains weren’t much better than the tires and we stopped at least a dozen times to fix them. It was well worth it though because the sky had fallen and the mountain was under knee deep fresh.
The next day we got a taste of the 2,000 vert runs that Lucas had bragged about, and he hadn’t embellished a bit. Getting back up was the hard part, they went down to a road, so depending on your luck a run could take only an hour or so, or you end up waiting with your thumb out for a couple, then have to walk two or so miles back to the resort. Having a car to shuttle is the way, but dirtbags can’t afford rental vans and we ended up doing some walking.
WARNING! If you ever ride El Colorado, or anywhere in Chile, be very very careful of rocks. They are sharp and often lurking under thin layers of tempting snow. Core shots are almost a guarantee off piste. But boards are fairly painless to fix or replace, while skin, muscle and bone are not. Blair found this out the hard way, and ended up buying himself ten stitches to the dome from the emergency room. It went like this, “ooh that looks nice,”….. charge……board to rock contact……. Cartwheel…. Head to rock contact…. Cartwheel, etc. We knew he wasn’t ok when he finally came to a stop after four or five rolls, on each one we could hear the crack of his board hitting rocks, and we knew his body was doing the same. When Blair finally came to a stop he was moving but did not respond to our calls, when we reached him he was bloody and concussed, but was able to ride the rest of the way down. Blair had to take it a little easy for the next few days and we were all a bit more cautious off of the runs. Nonetheless we stayed for a week of good riding.
SURF TIME! Blair and I decided we’d had enough snow and went to check out the coast. The report was calling for 12’ at 14 seconds or something, and when we got there it was definitely all of that. The surf in Chile is super consistent for mainly two reasons: the Humbolt current that comes up from the Antarctic which one of the fastest moving currents in the world, and the constant winds of the roaring forties which lay just to the south. Once out, it was, as usual, bigger than it looked and the swells were rolling around the corner in that make your heart drop and paddle for dear life fashion. After we got accustomed to the lineup we each snagged a few of the bigger waves of our lives. (as well as took some of the worst beatings, I got pushed all the way to the bottom on one). We stayed in Pichilemu for about four days in a cabin owned by a rad old dude named Jorge, who drove as to the beach every day that he wasn’t teaching history at a local school. It was bad ass, he just kicked on the bluff while we surfed all day. We later found out that his son is a local pro surfer and it explained why he was so on point with the surf routine. His son is named Conejo or “The Rabbit” and we saw some ridiculous pics of him surfing Punta Lobos at about 25 feet. And considering that it was pretty damn intimidating when we were out and it was only 10-12 feet, the guy gets some major respect from me. It gives you a whole different perspective on those big wave photos when you have actually surfed the spot.
After surfing we headed back to Santiago, went out to a crazy club where our friend Tarek almost got stabbed once, sounds fun huh? The other guys headed back to Washington and I stayed another week to make up for the one I’d missed at the beginning. The last week wasn’t quite as action packed as the rest of the trip, but I did get to go back out to the coast and also checked out the skatepark in Santiago.
Well, some other stuff happened to…. We partied, pisco is cheap as hell down there, tried to meet some of the many beautiful women, but its tough when your best Spanish is yo quiero taco bell, crashed at many different peoples houses. Hmmmm, what else? Chilean food kinda sucks, salty and overcooked, but they have good pizza. Saw some guy in a military uniform who looked a lot like Hitler (there is a large German influence there, and it is rumored that Hitler actually fled there…..along with Elvis) And that’s about all I can remember right now and I’m really surprised if you made it this far.
GO TO CHILE!!!!! Or wait, don’t, the mountains suck and the waves are crowded.
Thanks to all the people who helped/tolerated us during the trip: Ariel, Gato Cosmico and friends, Nico Saaric, Matias, Jorge, and all the others who I can’t remember right now, your names are misplaced but the good memories aren’t
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
If your one bad rail ripper you were here. If not, you were not. I didn't see you.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
'On the fifth day god said let there be powder'.... We were at
Tsugaike again, this time having some feel for where to shred and
feeling more comfortable with stretching the rules a bit in terms of
boundaries and ropes. The Japanese homies are all about respect and
were ironically reluctant to be ninjas but they came around..... We
we're kind of eyeballing this upper zone the day before but weren't
able to get there in time. With the new snow we thought it should be
pretty sick and it was. There was a solid foot of powder and while
shooting pictures was damn near impossible we somehow found a way to
enjoy ourselves. Even with a foot conditions were pretty wild becuase
the base was so weak this year that occasionally you find bushes,
rocks or just straight up dirt. There was so much articulation in the
slope that often you couldn't help but catch air in between turns. It
was super fun. Weather in Japan is probably the thing I'll remember
most and this day totally stood out for crazy, weird weather. We saw
everything mother nature could imagine- sun, crazy wind, barfing
snow, wet snow, dry snow- but nothing for more than a half hour at a
time. I'll have to look into how (in japan) it can be pretty warm,
like 29º or so, and the snow feels like Rockies powder. It can snow a
foot and all melt in a matter of hours. We met up with a couple of
locals; Tasuku, Nami, and Yone. They were super friendly, showed us
around and ripped. I'll always remember Tasuku's mastery of butter
moves on flat ground. People in the US are weak compared to this
dude. He made something that's usually pretty lame pretty impressive.
We hit this crazy Korean BBQ restaurant where all of the
quintessential "weird food" hit the table. Fish stomaches, cow
stomaches, a little tongue.....Forrest, how was that pig throat? No
shit....Odd as it was, we left fat and happy and cruised back to
Endo's to pack up and rest.
We woke up to some snow at the low elevation of Endo-san's house. I
sort of thought it was crazy to leave what we knew was going to be
sick snow but we had a bit of a schedule to adhere to. We finished
packing up and loaded up the cars. We took a couple of farewell shots
and said our goodbyes to Yuki ( Endo's girlfriend, so cool and made a
ridiculously sick dinner for everyone..thanks Yuki) and Daisuke from
AFD. Endo's house had this crazy little super steep driveway...I
thought we were going to slide right into the lake. On the way to
Akakura we stopped at this temple. Some of the biggest trees I've
seen anywhere, kinda legitimized the history of the little piece of
dirt. Endo showed us the customary "prayer" so with the toss of a few
coins we partook. It was the best 35 yen I've ever spent. About an
hour later we showed up at this mountain called Akakura. A couple
chair rides up and we met up with these dudes Goro and Shin. They
were super good snowboarders that were eager to show us around their
mountain. Right off the bat we could get a feel for a sick mountain.
The 2+ feet of fresh didn't hurt. We hit this crazy gully that was
kinda like a quarter mile long giant snake run in some big trees. So
many weird hips, little off-angle drops, and sick little field goals
all over the place. These Japanese dudes knew how to rally that kind
of terrain like crazy, it was sick. After a couple burners through
that area we went the opposite direction to a more open, more "roly"
section that was probably even better. It led us though a tunnel, a
first for all of us I think, and then to another chairlift. On the
ride up this new chair we came up over the first slope and were
looking at some SUPER sick stuff that the chair traversed over. I'm
not sure if there was any fog at all but it was snowing so hard that
you'd would've sworn there was. Every lift pole we crossed offered
more lines, more lines, more lines. It was some of the best stuff
I've ever see that was so easily accessible. Drops, pinball slots,
pillows, kickers..it was a playland. There were like 3 little cliffy
bands that you went through per run, each with a gazillion sick
features. Some of the best runs I can remember anywhere. Usually you
like to know where you are going but this day it didn't matter, it
was so deep and so perfect. Pictures? yeah right.....No, I think we
got a few actually. Kei, one of our tour guide home boys, did this
line that we were eyeballing. He was all sneaky and quiet about it,
it was super sick. It was more or less a double pillow but he airedd
the whole thing ( maybe like 20-22') and landed. What made it crazy
was the wild hole that was left where he landed. I could've easily
swallowed a dude. Pretty burly. Forrest dropped a super sick roof
jump off of this abandoned building...so sick. we quit close to dark
and headed to our new hotel. The hotel was unique and cool and right
outside our window was a cat making some park jumps under these weird
green and purple lights....We ate a rad meal prepared by the hotel
lady and hit the sack. The onsen at this place was pretty intimate.
day 7 was really just more of the same at Akakura. It's not that it's
not noteworthy, I just don't want to torture you with more stories
about the sickest day(s) I've had in a while. The fresh snow depth at
this point was edging 3 feet and we knew our way around a little. We
were laughing. Enough said. Thanks to Shin, Goro and anyone I'm
forgetting for showing us some super sick stuff at Akakura, those
This was the first day of the banked slalom we were slated to appear
at. The ski area was like 90 years old (literally) and had some real
crazy, old chairlifts that were notably loud. There were a few
hundred shredders attacking this single 500' vertical chairlift. The
powder went quick. We got some though and explored to find some more
Japanese gullies. I (zak) was eyeballing this little temple that
looked like it had some jump potential. I built this skinny ramp that
allowed us to get on the roof of the thing but I didn't hit it...
waited for a buddy to session with. The banked slalom event was small
and not what we were expecting but was fun and interesting. The
Japanese are all about style and not about death defying stuff. They
were just slashing, sliding and reverting on the banks, definitely
not going as fast as they could. Pulling airs off of the banks was
pretty popular too. For such a small and "free for all" style event
the turnout of rippers was pretty rad. After the banked slalom a
couple of us went to this "party" that was so calm that I could've
easily pulled some shut-eye....these guys were mellow. It was
dumping so hard that it snowed like 4 inches in the half hour we were
in that bar. Some of the craziest, hardest snow any of us had seen.
The second day of the banked slalom thing was pretty similar to the
first but we explored out a bit further. I headed down to that temple
jump and caught Temple and Forrest traversing by underneath right
about when I got to the top of the run in. The tranny on the run in
was super quick and there was a bunch of willows in your face on the
way through so it was kinda fun. The firs time I hit it It was
snowing so hard and the landing was so pristine (even after I threw
like 20 snowballs down to try to give it some definition) that I
couldn't see the landing at all...I landed and went over the bars and
just started laughing....the jump felt so good after getting beat up
a little and I knew the next few tries would be a lot better. Temple
and Forrest hustled up to hit it. For a pretty fun jump the hike was
super easy. Soon all the gang was hitting it. This guy named roro ( i
think it was) came up and was like "NO! bad luck! that is temple of
the mountain goat god!" I kinda laughed but then realized that he was
serious. I translated up the hill and that session ended. We decided
to roll back to Akakura and just cruise...no pictures, no stopping,
just rip around with the friends we had made on the trip. Everyone we
encountered were so cool, friendly, helpful and generous. It's weird
to snowboard with people you can hardly communicate with. Not much is
said but the vibe is clearly interpreted. Facial expressions, sighs
and laughter evoked all the necessary emotions. Again the shred went
till almost dark. Another roof jump session took place before we
packed up and drove to Tokyo. The drive was at least a few hours. We
arrived at our hotel, checked in and turned around to get some food.
The restaurant served a bunch of skewered items. I specifically
remember what seemed to be quail eggs wrapped in bacon. Pretty rad.
Kei took us to a couple little, low key spots we had a few mellow
drinks. Temple borrowed this guys bike for a minute and ended up
getting harassed by the police. That basically ended the night.
After a long drive the night before and a late dinner we woke up in a
"western style" hotel in Tokyo. All the sudden it didn't really feel
like Japan as we knew it. We lolly-gagged around the city for a while
before making the drive to the airport. When we were about to head
through security at the airport I realized that I was kinda gonna
miss the guys (kei and taka) that toured us around. They made it such
a fun, easy, and memorable trip...guys were super rad. A packed 8
hour flight had us in Sea-Tac at about 11:30 am which to us felt like
1 in the morning.....on the ride back to Matt's house where we had
convened prior to the trip, I had a moment to reflect....largely
because there was a mishap and temp's back window of his truck got
blown out so I had a taped on plastic bag slapping me in the still
ringing ears....I learned a few things in Japan; I love this stuff
called milk tea, Japanese people are probably the 'raddest' in the
world, Japanese snowboarders rip and, oddly, you'll see more sausage
in Japan than you will in Germany.
Forrest tree blaster
Forrest, getting it done
No friend on a powder day or what ?
Zak, tree attack
Tons of open terrain to rip up
Snow fence line, never got hit
Zak built this jump off a Temple's roof. Now he's gettin' it
Forrest, mute 1280
Matt, powder specialist
Kay goes large and makes it
Forrest found this roof and killed it
much cooler packaging
TV, incoming snow reports are solid
this man takes his job seriously
night time snow driving to hotel
Banked Slalom Japan style
Banked Slalom course
Shin, serious ripper, super nice guy, powder guide. thank you !!!
High Speed quads to check out the lines and watch your bros
Powder sucks, we are sad
When there is new snow you need to be here !
Japan has lots of cool shoes
Courtney Love art
Forrest powder slash with style
Temple-son method madness of the Temple
Zak, hitting the roof again
Forrest, Temple top booster
This guy was checking out Forrest something serious
Zak, tree slayer
Zak, wants to eat this guys harry dog. (in Lap)
Beer sampling with Goro's sweet camper rig
Temple, avid blogger