“You’re going to have to sit out a run,” said our guide Johnny Morgan to Bernard Crepel, one of our group members. Apparently Bernie had made one of the biggest mistakes you can when heliboarding: you don’t listen to where the guide wants you to go. In this instance, Bernie only cut about 20 yards above the guide’s trail, but he cut into an area that the guide felt was dangerous and could have an avalanche, so Bernie got a yellow card and had to sit one run out.
Another in our group, Jason Haynes, joined him in the penalty box for protesting the yellow-card action to the guide. Apparently, you don’t protest to guides when heliboarding. Interestingly, it turns out that Jason was Australian and Johnny a Kiwi, so the two probably wouldn’t have gotten along anyway.
Although for about five minutes, the rest of the crew contemplated a full on mutiny, heads cleared when it was realized that there’d be more powder for the rest of us without the two others this run. In the end, there were no hard feelings, and everyone was enjoying great powder all morning.
It was the fourth day at the Tyax lodge for the Quiksilver heliboarding trip. The crew had begun to gel together, everyone was settling into the riding routine, and the partying was reaching a frenzied pace. It was organized chaos, and things were edging toward spinning out of control late into the evening.
Thursday started off looking like it was going to be all-time. From the lodge, it looked bluebird. People got up for 7:30 stretches, started recovering from a wild night of parties, and got breakfast. But by the time the first heli lifted off the pad around 9:00 a.m., clouds could be seen around the nearby peaks. By the time we were in the riding zone, about a five-minute heli ride away, there were tons of clouds. It made riding conditions somewhat challenging. The guide and copter pilot did the best to find sunny runs, and several in the morning were epic, including the famed Yellow Card run.
The day’ riding crew was super mellow, with a couple of people from the Quik Europe clan including Bernie, Maritux Darrigrand, and Peter Sheldon. They were the French connection. We also had Quik outerwear designer Natalie Murphy, Greg Salomon, Tavarua Boat drivers John Roseman and Terry Stewart, and Haynes.
The day opened up with Alibaba changing helicopters to get out of our group and in with some of the ladies on the trip, including Veronica Kay, and Kristin Barone and Kenna Bertell—the wonder twins—as Baba called them.
Tony Hawk walked right by a crowd in the morning on his way to the helicopter, and muttered, “If you want to get the good lines, follow the deep trench this board’s going to leave.” It was a classic comment directed right at Todd Richards, who stood in awe that the Hawkman called him out like that. It was the birdman’s first heli trip, and word was he was a little nervous on the first day, but he seemed to settle in quite quickly.
Although he was taking shots from Hawk, TR was dishing some out himself: He drew a picture of Alibaba on his board, holding a chain that attached to Veronica Kay. It was called “Baba the Hut,” and was a direct rip off of the Star Wars character Jabba the Hut, and the famous scene where he had gold-bikini-clad Princess Leia in chains. Classic.
By the afternoon, I felt like Hellen Keller riding down the mountain. The clouds and snow rolled back into the area we were riding, and it made things pointless. We pulled out fast, just ahead of the storm. When we got back to the lodge, word went out that one group was still out there, stranded in the storm. As we sat in the hot tub, while a mini blizzard started. We watched the heli lift off and staying just above the trees, head back out in search of the stranded group. An hour later we could hear the bird coming back in through the crowds. It was an amazing sight. Who knew how that pilot got in to grab the crew?
Apparently they were okay, even though they were stranded forr more than an hour. Word was Hawk, Volcom’s Rich Woolcott, and several others managed to make a bonfire out of dead wood for some warmth, and Willy Morris volunteered to be the first eaten, if it came to that.
During dinner, Quiksilver CEO Bob McKnight made a short speech. “Most of you come up and thank me for the trip, but I want to thank all of you for making this a great trip.” He also continued, saying that we had all lost some friends in the past year, and reminded everyone to live life and enjoy it while we had it. This crew was definitely living by that example, and things got hectic later that evening, which was the last we’d all have together in the lodge.
At one point a big Pig game erupted, with hundreds of dollars being bet. Pig is kind of like a dice game, but you roll two small pigs on the table, and get points for the position that they land in. It was the most ridiculous game you’d ever play, and also one of the most addictive. Thanks to Willy for running that sideshow.
Later, in the bar, a DJ spun records while his girlfriend played a violin along with the tunes. It was the most bizarre and eerie sounding affect on the music, which was mostly hip-hop beats without the words. But it was also super cool.
At one point Volcom’s Paul White led an impromptu rap session on the mic. Later, Alibaba decided the guys in the pit should be dancing without their shirts, and he encouraged the dudes to take off their tops. Later, Hawk was seen on Baba’s back, riding around the dance floor. I’m not sure how that happened.
Needless to say, most of the exploits are better left at the Tyax lodge.
Tune in to www.transworldsnowboarding.com tomorrow for the final day from the Quiksilver Tyax heliboarding trip.