Howl At the Moon

It was a long day after waking up late from a jump building mission in the backyard of a buddy’s house in Truckee, CA.  I just finished my serving shift downtown at about 11PM when a sudden jolt of energy rushed through my body.  Last night’s moon was so bright that tonight’s moon was going to be even fuller and brighter.  I thought, “maybe another mission under the moon would be fitting.”

It had been snowing a TON in Tahoe lately. We just received two storms that dumped over 15ft! Yes I said 15 FEET!  These storms are typical of Tahoe, but what was not typical of Tahoe were the cold temps that lingered after the storms, keeping the snow nice and dry.  I called my buddy and North Lake Tahoe aspiring snowboard legend, Chip Snyder, and told him the idea.  I mentioned it to a few others but due to the hour, 11:30pm, and maybe the cold, nobody except @chipswitit was down for the send.  I grabbed snacks and a pint of Jack Daniels Whiskey to keep up the fuel and fire for this cold night hike.  I collected and packed my bag.  Canon Mark IV body, flash, radios, beacon, shovel, probe, snacks, whiskey, one beer, and extra layers. I grabbed my new Jones Carbon Solution split board and the other necessary equipment and tossed it in the car.  

We got all of our things and made it to the trailhead and had our gear on by 1 AM.  We started our ascent at 1:20AM.  My car read 6 degrees Fahrenheit.  The skin up was pretty mellow besides the cold.  Chip mentioned, “I didn’t really have any coffee or energy drinks but I feel soo good!” Like the environment and the rush of the night gave us a push of energy that we desperately needed in the late hour and the cold hike.  It was fast moving and fun.  We had our head lamps but the moon was so insanely bright we didn’t ever need them!  It was like walking around in daylight almost.  The lights from businesses and homes were the only giveaway that Earth for us had faced away from the Sun. 

The light dry snow being whipped across the lake was even captured.

Temps reached 4 degrees F

Looking down on Kings Beach

Chip in the moonlight over KB

Chip at the beginning of the hike.

When we made it to the top we enjoyed the view and cheers our accomplishments.  The moonlight glistened off the giant lake and illuminated the peaks of far off mountains.  We scoped spots near the top and figured out our lines.  A quick break for a Pabst Blue Ribbon and a couple swigs off the JD pint and we were feeling prime.  We found a tree to huddle behind as some wind was kicking up off the lake.  That’s where we switched over.

Making the switch.

Chip @ 2:30 am

Admiring the tools of the Craft

Beer Break

The ride down we had plans to try to capture some cool nighttime snowboard photography.  I had done this once before and with two people it was almost the only way to do it.  I attached my Phottix Odin radio transceiver to my camera and then affixed the receiver to my Canon 580ExII and placed it in a large ziplock bag.  Chip was entrusted to keep the flash safe but also to hold onto it so as he shredded toward the car I could set up images and allow him to ride and me to capture the action with some nice light.  

My camera settings varied but stayed around 0.4 Seconds at an aperture of f7.1 - ISO 6400.

The night time needed ambient light to capture the surroundings and thats what the long shutter helped with.  The flash was used to throw light into the scene and allow motion to be captured crisp. My Canon Mark 4 IV did an excellent job in the low light with high ISO. 

The descent was so fun and energy filled. We would spot a zone, I would ride to a frame I liked and had Chip rip through it.  When he made a nice turn or jump I released the shutter that in turn radio triggered the flash and captured the images.  Frequently I would look at my camera back screen and was beyond pumped on the awesome images being captured.  Chip was stoked too and that’s what made it a great night.  Anytime you are out shooting its always better when you come away with some quality content and images.  It makes the whole mission more worth it and a great way to share with your friends.

We finally made it most the way down and packed the camera equipment away and took the last few turns for the soul.  We arrived back at the car by 4:20AM.  WHAT A TIME! We were a little cold but all in all just excited that we could have easily of said ‘no’ and just sat on the couch and went to bed, but NO we got up and took advantage of the beautiful moonlight over Lake Tahoe that night.

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Backcountry Access


An Unlikely Swell

Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake sitting at about 6,225’ feet above sea level and located on the border of California and Nevada.  A unclassified natural wonder of the world.  Summer’s offer incredible hiking and waterspouts on the lake and winter offers some incredible skiing and snowboarding.  The seasons in the middle of those two make it hard for locals to find activities to keep them happy and healthy.  Autumn always brings cooler temps, amazing cloud structures and of course early winter season storms that kick up some serious wind.  Now we all know Lake Tahoe is just that, a lake, but when the wind comes and it does.  It can blow pretty fast, sometimes even up to 60 mph!  Some adventurous board sports loving locals find ways to actually surf these waves produced from the storm winds.  It is some sight to see.  Way above sea level you would think no one could ride a wave on a surfboard designed to ride ocean waves and swells.  

The wind speeds were up so I called up my buddy Logan Knutzen, a Tahoe local who also loves ripping his water stick, to see if he was interested in getting out there to shoot some photos.  Of course if there were waves then he was onboard.  Now these spots are considered “find it yourself” spots, so no beach names will be used.  The first spot we hit had decent waves.  The biggest difference between ocean and lake surfing would probably have to be the inconsistancy of the waves on the lake.  You never know if the wave behind this will be better or worse, unlike the perfect swells that come and go on the ocean.  Logan stayed out there for about an hour and we got some awesome shots.  The first day was legit, but the next day was supposed to offer even more wind, so we planned on hitting it again tomorrow.

The next day it actually snowed in the morning.  This is just to show you what these riders go through to catch some waves.  It is definitely not 65 degree water surfing the shore of San Diego!  Wetsuits, hoodies, booties, and gloves are all necessary.  A duck dive with no hoodie in 45 degree water doesn’t feel too good on the brain.  Ever heard of a real brain freeze!?  Well I got to Logan’s house around 10:30 or so and we set off to search for waves along the edge of North Lake.  The spot we hit yesterday offered no good waves like it was delivering the day before. Passing through Incline Village we drove to the East shore where from the road we spotted some serious waves crashing into shore.  Yeah by the way, submerged rocks near the shore break are a constant fear.  Falling from the board onto a boulder or riding over one is not ideal, but hey where’s the fun if there’s no risk!  This spot had good amount of break.  the wave was probably about 4-5 feet!  Insane for a lake at 6,225’ feet and a depth of 1632’ feet.  We had a solid day running up and down the coast of Tahoe searching for the best waves.  The photos show how sick it was those days!  

Check out the full gallery below!

- Sawyer

Snow in Sin City

It’s still considered pre-season around here for most of the snowboard community who hasn’t been chasing winter around the globe or riding ridges out in British Colombia or Alaska. For us it is a time where we dust off the board from the corner of our bedrooms, grab the nearest screwdriver and begin tightening the screws on the pair of bastardized bindings left over from summer in Lake Tahoe. Every turn of the screwdriver, our senses ignite with joy and our memories of last season flood into our minds. Early snow near the Mt. Rose area enabled some Lake Tahoe riders their first taste of snow in winter. A few jibs and rails are set up off in the woods near the summit. Everyone is extremely eager to get the board back under their feet. Some riders however are picking up right where they left off. 

 I got the call to take the pre-season trip to Las Vegas for some competition I was skeptical about to begin with because snow, in Vegas, Really? But hey, its early season and there’s nothing else to do around North Lake. The plan, drive ourselves down to Las Vegas to cover Matt Shaffer, a sponsored snowboarder, while he competed to win a huge cash pot. The crew: Matt Shaffer, Dustin Dresser (Local Tahoe snowboarder and ripper), Kurt Brending (Film and photo man), and myself (another film and photo man). 

Early Friday morning we packed the car to the gills with snowboards, snowboard gear, and camera gear. We piled into the small 4-door sedan, cramped as all hell, and left from Incline Village towards Vegas! This was not going to be a straight drive to the desert and back, no way. Mammoth Mountain just opened their lifts the day prior and was an absolute must on our way to Vegas. Along Rt. 395 down the Eastern side of the Sierras is an amazing drive. Long flat sections of earth butted up against some insanely steep and snowy mountainous terrain that leaves your mouth watering. We passed through landmarks like Mono Lake, the Eastern entrance to Yosemite Valley at Tioga Pass, through the June Lake Loop, and finally arrived into the town of Mammoth Lakes. 

We shot some b-roll footage and snapped a few photos along the way, but as we neared the resort all our attention was focused on getting out of the car and getting on the hill. First lap, summit run of course! The first descent…pure ice on the face! Shit! It got much better as we reached the area where they set up a few rails. The set up was 3 sections, 2 features wide, on a 1000 foot blocked off area. All the shredders were there, Mike Rav, Tim Humphreys, The DC crew and now Matt Shaffer. Kurt busted out the death lens and got us all hiking the features while stacking the first few set of clips for the year. Everyone was throwing down and getting their shots, especially Matt sending switch and hardways. It was sick until our half day passes ran out at 4pm when Mammoth closed their lifts. 

 Our stay in Mammoth Lakes was not to be very long even though the party was definitely on here during the opening weekend. A stop at the store for a 30 rack of CL and a local restaurant for pizza, wings, and more beer had us set and ready to make the next 5 hour stint into Sin City. The course had us crossing through Death Valley at night, which is one of the creepier things I have ever done. All around you is empty until you see the faint outline of a looming dark mass which are foothills, although you never know if there is something in the form of life on the other side or more black abysmal. The nothingness switched to a few pairs of headlights coming at you to more and more society popping up around you. The sky is insanely bright because of the glow of Vegas’s obsession with neon lights and flashing bulbs. We arrive at ‘The D’, the hotel we were supposed to have a room in. We grabbed the important stuff out of the car and got to the front desk for check in. We’re exhausted but ready for Las Vegas. Of course, the hotel room was not booked, we were supposed to have it squared away but things never go as planned, do they? Luckily we bunked up with Mike Burton, fellow Gilaffe rider. Our first thought was to dump the bags and go get a drink. Our hotel was in Old Downtown Las Vegas. The famous Fremont Street and all its casino attractions and street performers. The real show is people watching because there are some strange people out there! We had to turn in not too long after just to be able to function tomorrow for the contest. 

 We spent the morning grabbing bomb breakfast and checking out the set up for the contest. It has been gnarly in years past, and this year was no different. After registering we ate, hit the hot tub, and napped until it was time to walk across the street to the events center for the contest. 


Over 5000 tickets were sold to a ton of enthusiastic people waiting for the Throwdown. They were definitely in for a treat. Some other familiar names in the contest were Denis Bonus, Ryan Paul, Mike Burton, and Cody Boan. The idea was to have skiers vs. snowboarders. The judges would decide who rode the best overall and that person would win $4,000. The first place prize was a cool $3000 for the skiers and for the snowboarders. The location was epic, the lighting was epic, the set up was definitely one of a kind, and we were ready to see the riders do what they do best. The contest lasted a while and everyone was pretty worn out. After about 3 different jam sessions the finalists were chosen and announced on the music stage. The last session was the hardest hitting for sure. The top riders were throwing down everything they had! Some crazy bails hurt to watch and had one skier leaving with stitches and staples. The top 3 were chosen and announced! 

 1st: Ryan Paul $3000 

 2nd: Drayden Gardner $1500 

 3rd: Matt Shaffer $500 

 We were stoked for Shaffer on a late 3rd place announcement! Props man! Now it was time to do what any other person in Vegas would do after placing in a contest and not having anything else better to do…Rage! We hit Fremont Street and a few local bars and tore it up. The memories of the night are vague, but they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Waking up at the pool five minutes before checkout time is a testament to having a pretty solid night when it snows in Sin City. 

 Check out the full gallery below! 

Video Recap Coming Soon!!

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