VIDEO: Pro Surfers Ride Melting Glacier Tsunami in Alaska
Over at SustySurf, we're totally stoked about the growing opportunity the surfing community has to inspire as well as to insist on change in the way humans interact with the environment. So far we've been lucky enough to chat with musician-surfers Jack Johnson and Ben Harper who use their boards as soapboxes to optimistically encourage urgent positive steps toward healthy oceans in the wake of human footprints and anthropogenic global warming. As a global sport dependent on the world's largest bodies of water, and one that happens to be incredibly sexy in its pursuit of living life via life and death thrills, surfing is uniquely positioned to get everyone from lay persons to law-makers enthused about racing headlong into the rush of tackling the environmental crisis.
But (as we've pointed out before, especially where beaches are concerned there often is a big butt), as citizen Gore recently postulated in his Inconvenient-Truth-take-two TED slide presentation, we labor in the United States under the weight of a "culture of distraction." It is in that context that Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala, one of Hawaii's leading tow-surfing teams, headed to Southeast Alaska coming up on a year ago to tackle tsunami waves generated by the cataclysmic collapse of the area's glaciers. McNamara, Mamala, Deepwater Films and a support crew set up base camp on the shores of the glacial coastline waiting to "carve the calve" or to seek out waves generated by the calving ice that reel off for hundreds of yards. And carve they did. Sheer ice faces of over 400 feet calved away from Child's Glacier, crashing into the waters below and setting off left-and right-breaking waves that peeled across a pebble-bottom river bank for more than 300 yards, offering rides of up to one minute long. (Warning: Video contains language that some may find offensive):
As is the habit of thrillists Mamala and McNamara, they are always searching the globe for yet undiscovered waves, riding them to the extreme and challenging the notion of what was previously considered impossible. "In this case, it's not as much about riding big waves as it is about exploring a new surfing frontier," explains McNamara. A shame such courageous and inspiring adventurers worthy of admiration missed the chance to ride the burgeoning frontier of the Enviro New Wave. They, like each and every one of us, needn't do a little bit of each and every possible thing to correct the world's environmental ills, but rather should commit to focusing their efforts where their passions and prowess lay. We're not suggesting that all occasions for killer surfing should have the pall of eco gloom and doom hanging over them, but it seems like an ethical no-brainer while exploiting the destruction of Alaska's glaciers, to at least make an attempt to raise money and awareness for the need to take similar, fearless breakneck action to combat climate change.