Surfing Alaska

Novice surfers like myself regularly use the word crazy to describe two things in the surfing world; enormous waves and the lunatics who ride them.

I’ve just discovered a third opportunity to incorporate crazy into my surfer’s parlance: Surfing in Alaska.

This month’s Outside Magazine includes a typically excellent article highlighting six-time world-champion surfer Layne Beachley and a few of her partners in crime as they head north to catch some waves in the chilly waters of Alaska.

The gang rents out a house called Moose Mansion in the village of Yakutat (pop. 700) where the air and water temperatures run in the surprisingly warm fifties–still a far cry from the tropical locations these surfers usually find themselves. Even more of a disconnect is the scenery; Sitka spruce on the shore, salmon fishermen on the water, and a glacier in the distance.

Some marvelous country indeed, and the last place you’d expect to see a surfer bobbing in the water! And, yet the region is gaining in popularity as a surfing hotspot according to Surfer Magazine and even has its own surf shop appropriately called, Icy Waves.

Much of the Outside article, however, is dedicated to the land adventures of the group. But we do learn that the waves are decent sized but probably not worth the journey on their own. But the location, oh my, the location, most certainly is.