The Big Wave Challenge is a one-of-a-kind event inspired by legendary surfer, Gerry Lopez. The annual event popped off at Mt. Bachelor over the weekend and throngs of riders came to surf the snow and enjoy the aloha vibes.
Aaron Lebowitz, a bonafide captain of stoke, and the man behind Elevated Surfcraft, was on hand at the event and provided his recount of the laid-back contest.
Words/Photos courtesy of: Aaron Lebowitz
As the winter shifts to spring and the day get longer in the higher elevations, the snow continues to ride.
In Oregon in April surfers of snow and waves from all over the world congregate to the volcanic cone break of Mt. Bachelor to catch the last big swell of the season.
The Stoke Bus toured for four days from the Tetons, across Idaho and Oregon, with a few hot springs stops along the way, and picked up our friend from Italy @_themoustacheguy_.
After a few stops in Bend at Cubicle Surf, Deschutes Growery and El Sanchos Tacos, we moseyed up the mountain road. What is usually a 35 minute zip takes about 1 1/2hr in the bus. When we finally landed, it was a jamming to the parking lot space already encrusted with 8” of fresh snow. And until it stops, we are holding down the stoke.
Storm totals and boards ridden:
Tuesday- 10” Cloudchaser- 4’10 Goldfish
Wednesday- 10” Northwest 4’10” Goldfish
Thursday- 12” Cloudchaser 5’10 Log
Friday – Big Wave Challenge- Yoga with Gerry Lopez- course inspection with warm tide change around 2pm
5’0 Shortboard cutbacks, 5’1 RedTail Hawk lay-backs, 4’10 Goldfish slashes
The practice day was a casual and fun jam session with soft to slush conditions, good vibes and party waves. The best of the best riding was expressed during this session.
Lot life at Bachelor is as ideal a setup, like a beach house at a firing break. The neighborhood builds and disperses, friends who post up every year get to hang, there are bathrooms and hot showers, and the burritos at the Nordic Center are the bomb! And it’s only 100 steps from the lift or a few more for dawn patrol on the cone.
With the film North Shore showing at the Tower Theater in Bend, everyone was stoked to paddle out and catch some tasty waves. From hot doggers to soul surfers there were plenty of waves for all. The starting lineup was full of camaraderie awaiting the next chance to drop in. The announcers from the judges platform described the rides through surf lingo and plenty of peanut gallery banter. The crown was alive with hoots and howls – hungry for radical maneuvers.
I looked down into the course from the starting gate, barrels and sections appeared out of the blue paint. Dropping into the second wave of the set, the excitement built and the rush of wind crisped the senses— bottom turn, to the top, around the outside to a long right hander, barrel coverup, back to the left and taking the trimline to layback slash under the judges, a few flowing garlands on backhand to finish with a highline roundhouse to air drop in Mavericks.
Aloha all around, with a luau feast and many awards given based on style, meant everyone who showed up was a winner just for being a part of the tribe.
Now- to begin digging out the bus because the storms keep coming and the river is calling to be surfed.
2019 Big Wave Challenge Results
KANE (MEN’S OPEN)
1. Jared Elston
2. Fujita Kazushige
3. Justin Schoonover
WAHINE’S (WOMEN’S OPEN)
1. Janessa Bork
2. Erika Vikander
3. Camila Brown
1. Allister Shultz
2. Bubbles’ Hayato Maruyama
3. Jason Shurtz
KEIKI’S (16 & UNDER)
1. Rei Igarashi
2. Cannon Cummins
3. Elijah Pyle
1. Ian Walsh
2. Kohl Christensen
3. Rob Machado
BEST CARVE (Top Turn/Off Top)
BEST CARVE (Bottom Turn)
BEST 360 DEGREE CARVE
BEST LAY BACK
BEST NEW COMER
FIRST CHEST HAIR
MOST ALOHA SPIRIT
TAKE CARE OF THE EARTH
BEST CUT BACK