Skies of the condor, land of the lefts, gateway into the Andes.
For those that live life sideways, Chile is a powerful vortex that attracts us to its towering, jagged mountains and barren coastlines. This appeal results in an annual August pilgrimage south of the equator and teleporting back into winter. A point comes in the summer where withdrawals reach their tipping points, and the only way to alleviate tension is to drop in on a plane ticket. For a modest fee, an escape into a Southern Hemisphere haven awaits. The Andes have become one of my favorite mountain ranges in the world simply because of the physical release and mental ease they produce. For me, the appeal of foot-powered freeriding is grand. Relying on your own strength to get you up mountains where no one else has been is profoundly rewarding. Jeremy Jones, Forrest Shearer and Josh Dirksen are three guys who have led the engineless charge over the last decade, showing the world the benefits of splitboarding. It was an honor to accompany them on a mid-summer exploration for fresh tracks.
Surfing inspires the type of riding that we do. From seeking out windlips and rollers on the mountain to the board shapes Jones has designed with Chris Christenson, it was only natural to take a couple days to explore the Chilean coast. The beauty of the landscape is overpowering. The lack of concrete commercialism and neon lights has left this part of the world untainted. It is the land before time. The crew’s roots in surfing shined as they paddled out into powerful Pacific currents. Along with a local legend by the name of Coco, the goofy footers took turns ripping the lefts and entering the elusive tube. The lineup is composed of a small community that shares a strong love for their home break. Initially weary of gringo visitors with cameras, we soon connected with the common passion for standing sideways. Coco graciously accommodated us at his farm house less than a kilometer from the beach. Family values are a staple in Chile, as a typical household has several generations living under the same roof. His mother and sister-in-law kept us full with some of the best food we had ever had in our lives. A BBQ with the local crew was the perfect cap to our long weekend, sharing cervezas and jamming into the wee hours of the night. Batteries recharged, it was time to head back into the mountains for more.
Pointbreaks to powder is a mantra repeated and cherished on these trips. Few places in the world make it possible to ride off of 14,000 peaks and get barreled the next morning. Down here, I often find that I am the lone regular footer—well, and Andrew Miller—in this heavy crew of right-foot-forward surf turkeys. Chile is geographically lined up with the perfect features for this majority stance to thrive. Highly revered and intimidated by many, Forrest Shearer, Josh Dirksen, Alex Lopez and Jeremy Jones are all highly adept in both snow and water. Surely the picture-perfect tubes must have something to do with their yearly passport stamp. It's always a gamble traveling this far away from home. So many stars need to align in order to do the type of snowboarding that we attempt to document. We've learned that things cannot be rushed. Chile-time moves a little slower. It is when you surrender yourself with uncontrollable forces when a trip starts to go your way. Tranquilo.
Chile, nos vemos!