Tailgate Alaska Day 5 - Not on my ship

Wednesday in Thompson Pass turned out to be a down weather day. Even though it looked promising when I woke up, which compelled me to get my gear together and walk over to the helipad, it didn't take long for the window to blow over and for clouds to roll in. When I got the official word from the ABA guys that Wednesday was going to be a day for “window shopping” (i.e. waiting for windows in which to fly), I decided it would be a good opportunity to drive the RV into town to get gas and a few supplies.

I followed Paul, Rob, and George into the town of Valdez since they were also on the hunt for gas and groceries. Once resupplied, we stopped off at the Totem Inn to eat at the restaurant; our first real meal in days. While we were there, we ran into Justin and Gabe who were chilling out in one of the hotel rooms there. Gabe had booked the room as a place to periodically take showers, recharge electronics, and just generally reintegrate himself into functioning society. When he saw us pull in to the Totem Inn, he offered to let us use the showers so we jumped on the opportunity to take our first showers in a while (Saturday in my case). I think it was probably about time that we did too because it seemed that everywhere we went in Valdez, people knew that we were here for Tailgate Alaska. I'm not sure if it was because they could see it in our eyes, or because they could smell it on our persons. The truth is that it was probably a little bit of both. So being clean, fed, and refreshed, we drove back up Thompson Pass to see what was happening at Tailgate.

The winners of the first beacon search contest. These guys can fly with Perata.
The winners of the first beacon search contest. These guys can fly with Perata.

Although Tailgate Alaska is principally about freeriding, there are lots of things to do when you're not actually riding. On Wednesday it was the Beacon search competition which I decided to enter. At the very least, it never hurts to have a little extra beacon practice, plus there were prizes for the fastest time. The scenario was a slide area about 100m wide, and 150m long, with a single burial. The beacon had to be located in less than five minutes. I was the first participant to go, but as I got over the little hill into the search area I started picking up multiple beacons. To make things even more confusing, they were moving around. Apparently the organizers hadn't counted on people milling around in the search area with beacons turned on. After a few minutes of stumbling around, only to find people and not being able to lock onto the buried transceiver, the organizers called me back to the staging area then asked that people turn off their beacons. I didn't try again because I actually saw where the beacon was buried so it would have been unfair. When I told Nick Perata about my mis-adventures though, he put me on the list of people to not have on his ship (I swear I'm good at finding beacons Nick). Fortunately there will be more beacon search contests throughout the week so I'll have the opportunity to redeem myself.

Tailgate Alaska is also an opportunity to rub elbows with some of the biggest names in snowboarding. Apparently while I was flying on Tuesday, the Travis Rice show arrived and partied a little bit with my New York friends. I was sorry I missed it, but Tailgate is such an intimate event that I was sure I would run into them at some point anyway. Sure enough after returning from an afternoon of filming, Travis Rice, Mark Landvik, and Scotty Lago dropped by to grab a few PBRs and shoot the breeze. Apparently they are in town filming for the follow up to “That's It, That's All”, and to participate in the King of the Mountain which takes place on the weekend.

Even though I was grounded on this grey and windy day, I can't say that I was emotionally down about it. There's so much going on at Tailgate that there aren't too many dull moments, and I'm sure there will be more fly days before I ship out of Alaska on April 10th. On the plus side, I got to take a shower, practice my transceiver search skills, and meet Travis Rice, Mark Landvik, and Scotty Lago who are all very cool individuals. This made me realize that Tailgate Alaska might be to snowboarding what conventions are to Start Trek nerds, but with much more real danger. These dangers are the reason why I gotta do some more beacon practice and redeem myself at the next beacon search competition, I gotta get off Perata's “not on my ship” list; apparently Nick Perata wants to live long and prosper so he can keep shredding the gnar.

Winter Matters Bubble

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