Twenty years later, Jamie Lynn and Bryan Iguchi return to show Pat Moore Valdez, Alaska
This feature originally appeared in the December edition of TransWorld SNOWboarding and has been updated with the photo gallery and extended captions. Subscribe here.
Words: Pat Moore
Photos: Tim Peare
Photo: Tim Peare
Ovvvvvvvver the mountain…" The lyrics sung by the legendary Ozzy Osbourne blare through the headphones as we lift off from the Alaska Snowboard Guides (ASG) camp on Thompson Pass.
This is my first Valdez experience, and as if my nervous excitement isn't overpowering enough, this song perpetuates gnar into the soul of any snowboarder who's appreciated the heaviness of the Valdez section in Standard Films' TB5. As the Eurocopter B2 carries us up glacial rivers, the cracked ice turns to rolling snowfields and the first glimpse of the famous ramps and historical lines send goose bumps over my body. The mountains are freshly caked and the spines are fat. Any ego of mine dissolves, and I find myself back in the rookie seat. After leading a film crew for Blueprint 2 over the past winters, I change my role from head honcho to student. I look over at my teammates, Bryan "Guch" Iguchi and Jamie Lynn, who were both in that famous TB5 section nearly 20 years ago. And as they scan the surroundings for rideable terrain, I realize I have no say in the matter—I'm just along for their ride.
The last few days were spent hanging around the ASG camp and in Valdez, mostly doodling, listening to Jamie play guitar, eating wookie waffles, and drinking beer. Valdez, once a major boomtown of the Alaska Pipeline construction, is your typical Alaska fishing village nestled in a harbor of Prince William Sound. The town's population has since deflated and the streets lie quietly. Our boredom is interrupted whenever an old memory sparked a story, usually from our guides, Dan Caruso or Dave Geis. These guys are in Valdez for the long haul. Dave has been riding here for 16 years, and Dan's spent the last 20 among these peaks as a guide. Most of the stories revolve around how the Valdez snowboard scene took shape and the guys who put it on the map. When I asked Dan about how it began he said, "Well, it all pretty much started in 1991 with the World Extreme Snowboard Championships organized by the Valdez Chamber of Commerce and a dude named Mike Cozad who owned the Tsaina Lodge back then. It ran parallel to the World Extreme Skiing Championships. The next year, or two years later, Nick Perata took it over and it became the King Of The Hill. Tex Davenport won the '91 comp over [Shawn] Farmer—they were pretty out of control then. KOH was a little better run, and the heli transport was better. Steve Klassen, he owns the Wave Rave shop in Mammoth, won all the comps and was by far the most influential big-mountain rider ever. He went to Verbier [Switzerland] and won those comps too in '95, '96, '97."