Mike Estes has been a part of snowboarding in the Northwest for so long, it’s been said that he arrived on one of the first wagon trains to come west on the Oregon Trail. Look inside his old shoe box that contains lift passes spanning his entire lifetime, and you’ll see that not much has changed for this man/child-he’s a little taller, slightly aged, and still living, in his words, “a tragic comedy.”
As far as his career, Mike’s pretty much done it all in snowboarding. Back in the 80s he was one of the most recognized pros on the circuit. He’s been a team manager and has one of the longest track records of any coach at summer camp. He’s won contests all over the world and can lay claims to many “firsts”on Mt. Hood. He was a skate-style pioneer for our sport and is always down to defend the cause.
In a town where so many people have come and gone, hoping to find the dream, it’s good to see that Mike has stayed put and continues to add lift passes to that old shoe box.-E Wright
Is Mike Estes a magnet for trouble?
I somehow always seem to get into a stupid situation, from high school to summer camp, the soap opera never ends.
How long have you been snowboarding in Oregon?
Eleven years. The first day on a board I was a junior at Sandy High School, and a local shop had Burton Backhills. Me and a couple guys I used to skate with went to the Welches Golf Course for our first powder turns ever, right off the first tee. That was November of 1985. I started skiing here when I was a little kid.
Who are your sponsors now?
Volcom and Black Flys have taken care of me for over four years, and I’m still totally down with them. Companies appreciate loyalty, and so do I. Also Fishpaw and One Ball Jay wax. I wish I could say a certain So Cal board company supported me, but all I can say is, Ride what you want.
What makes riding in Oregon special for you?
From Hood to Bachelor, Oregon is the land of never-ending transitions. And Meadows is still the best-kept secret-pow, cliffs, trees, pipe, park, and lift-accessed backcountry, to name a few reasons. Plus, no sales tax and Burnside.
What’s your history with the summer camps?
John Harting and I started the Rebel Boarding School in the summer of 1988 with the help of Eldon Hargraves and Kris Jamieson. Since then I’ve worked for and helped start U.S.S.T.C. with Bob Gille and put up with High Cascade for four years. I would always spend at least two weeks up at Craig Kelly’s World Camp, even longer when I was exiled from Mt. Hood in 1991 and 1992. Since returning I have gratefully worked at Tim Windell’s camp for the past three years now.
Speaking of Windell, why did he throw beer in your girlfriend’s face?
First of all, you have to know “Zim.” Zim refers to his unbounding love for Zima.-ed. He loves to get anyone around him in a fit and mess with your mental well-being. The time you’re asking about was when my girlfriend Lori broke down the king of gurn and made him lose control. I maintained throughout all of it, and now we laugh about it. But you know women, and one thing’s for sure, she won’t have to take anymore bullshit from him in the future.
Break off the long list of “props” for an Oregon snowboard story.
This is what I’ve always wanted to do! First off all the Oregon O.G.s-Rob Morrow, Buzzy Morales, Chris Saimme, John Caulkins, J.J. Irwin, Eldon Hargraves, Kris Jamieson, Chris Karol, Michele Taggart, Kurt Heine, J.D. Platt, Andy Tullis, Andy Wolf, Tom Nordwall, Ian Osbourn, Marty Sheppard, Jason Paulson, Imbob, Matt Donahue, Kirby Phelps, and even Craig Kelly and Mike Ranquet lived here at one time. Mark Hibdon, Jubal Reynolds, Joe Albano, Jason Beaton, Rob Williams, Jesse Johnson, Jason Brown (the old one), and the legendary Tom “Wally” Inouye.
I also love sessioning with the new talent pool like Gabe Linn, Matty Olson, Andrew Crawford, Travis Yamada, Leslie Olson, Tomi Toiminen, Jason Chatttfield, Tyler Dewilde is my favorite, all the Bachelor locs. You can’t forget about the dark star, Chris Brunkhart in all his genius. Also, Embry Rucker, Quinn Shields, Cintia Shutt, Ross Steffy, Greg Schmitt, and John Humphries for documenting over the years. I would personally like to thank you E Wright, for rejuvenating my level as a spokesman for the sport-now let’s go skate, please!