Whispers of a brazen adventure into the wilderness featuring helicopters, boats, virgin snow and perfect surf have been circulating among the extended ISURUS family for a few weeks. Jon Rose and Ryan Seelbach were on this trip of a lifetime, and we just had to find out what was behind the logic of swapping the near-certainty of tropical Indonesian barrels with the high-risk proposition of freezing Alaska.
Ryan himself gave us the lowdown:
"One of the most fucked up things about planning a trip like this is the fear of the result. Spending almost 3 weeks in AK hoping surf shows up in very fickle places or the conditions will be suitable for backcountry snowboarding is kinda nerve racking.
Now that I am older, I can let go of the fomo and know that if all else fails, I am heading to AK with a good crew and we will manufacture fun regardless of the conditions.
We were fortunate enough to check off a bunch of my personal unchecked boxes (heli ride big AK mountains, surf the Kenai Fjords, hike unexplored peaks in coastal AK, see the northern lights, watch glaciers calving off into the ocean, and SUP, fish, swim in the fjords)."
"Jumping out of a bird onto a knife edge, razor sharp peak was by far the gnarliest thing I've done in a long time. The area we offloaded onto was the size of a 10 foot long bar, barely big enough for us to gear up. Looking down the 3,000 ft drops on both sides while trying to figure out how we were getting down was ridiculous and got my whole body shaking with vertigo. Got to watch the boyz go first which gave me the confidence to pull it off and once I launched into the shoot, my focus came back and I nailed it.
Switching to the boat trip, getting up early to hike a peak that had never been done was so epic. We spent the day beforehand mapping our route and prepping gear. We hit it early when the snow was firm and used crampons and an ice axe to ascend. We practiced roping up to walk across glacial terrain. We then booted the last steep section and finally made it to the top in the afternoon under windless, cloudless skies. We celebrated on top with lunch and some stories before descending in front of dark blue waters surrounded by white mountains. It was surreal. "
"The three guys from Colorado brought the backcountry gear and knowledge but when surfing, we brought the same for them. It was down right freezing. We had two sessions in 38F water and 35F air. Icebergs and snowflakes during the second session. I donned 7 mil boots and gloves with the 6-5 Isurus suit, I was toastie and lasted longer than everyone (I get cold pretty easy too!). Surf was clean with head high sets. The boys were intermediate - beginner, so Jon Rose and I did our best to get them stoked by showing them where to sit, giving some push-ins, encouragement, and smiles. It was all they needed to send it on those waves."
So our takeaways from how to make a trip like this work are basically forget any expectations of getting the perfect conditions and surround yourself with a great crew! Sounds like the foundations of any adventure.
If you are planning your next team surf trip then perhaps it's time to rethink the destination. If it's isolated peaks and exceptional scenery you're looking for then Alaska could be calling.
One critical aspect of a pioneering expedition into such wilderness is the right guide. Jon, Ryan and the team connected with Alaska Surf Guides.
Alaska Surf Guides
Scott Reierson is the owner of Alaska Surf Guides, and he's been exploring the surf in this wild region for years. Having planned many boat and plane trips to completely isolated spots, he's the guide you want to make you everything right in this fickle part of the world, dominated by nature.
With nearly 34,000 miles of coastline to explore, Alaska boasts spots that have never been surfed, and ample opportunities to discover the perfect break on any given day.
Scott is a legend in the area, which is why friends of Isurus, Ryan Seelback & Jon Rose chose him to lead their mission into Kenai Fjords of the Artic with surfboards and split snowboard gear - including some extra warm Isurus Wetsuits.
Ryan certainly appreciated the warmth:
"thanks for the 6.5 ml suit!! Water and air were 38F and my sessions were first in last out every time! 🔥🙌😍"
Alaska Surf Guides provided access to boats, helicopters, skiing, surfing and some of the most epic scenery on earth. It is definitely now on our bucket list.