Tailgate Alaska 2010: Put Your Board on the Snow and Your Relationship on the Rocks


First morning in AK, looking into the Valley of the Tusk – so stoked.

Before I knew it I was signed up for some last minute health insurance, bags packed, squashed in a plane seat and hoping I didn’t forget anything which was essential for the two weeks of snow cave camping that lay ahead of me. The next two weeks nestled into the Thompson Pass is something that is now ingrained in my mind forever. Big thanks to Spark R&D who put up the bill for myself and Erik Morrison who was competing in the 2010 – reincarnation of the King of The Hill contest.

Andy Finch slashing pow over some exposure during the 2010 King of the Hill Contest. Photo: Reid Morth

Andy Finch slashes pow over some exposure during the 2010 King of the Hill Contest.


Travis Rice charges out of the shadows and into 1st place as the “2010 King of the Hill”.

Our first morning on the pass came early and it came bluebird as ever. Erik and I linked up with another Montana ripper and Tailgate veteran Aaron Robinson who showed us an amazing day in the Valley of The Tusk. From that day on, I was in a snowboarding shell shock and the trip had only just begin. My second day was spent at the base of ‘Bro-bowl’ shooting the Recco King of the Hill World Extreme Free ride Competition. Give a huge thanks to Nick Perata and Mark Sullivan for making the contest come together; it was a snowboard contest that has been missed for over a decade – it was a huge undertaking and these guys pulled it off. The contest was a visual history of shred from legends like Shawn Farmer to young guns like Travis Rice and Scotty Lago. Lines where getting pulled straight out of your favorite shred porn and nail biting billy-goating came and went, it was a visual onslaught of riding that won’t be seen till next year’s tailgate.

After the contest the mood changed and not that it was bad to begin with – but now everyone could focus on the fun and ride just for themselves, wrap up video parts and maybe rake in some photo incentives. The longer everyone was in camp the more like family everyone became. Over the two weeks at one point or another everyone passed in and out of the yurt and maybe squeezed in a game of ping-pong. On one of the last nights of Tailgate, Spark R&D threw down and Erik and made a burger and beer run down to Valdez. That night at the barbecue everyone came together around the free kegs Alaskan Amber, the grill and someone rounded up a speaker system which hosted a few Kingwill freestyle battles.

Tailgate AK was full of great lines late into the day and hanging with a bunch of like-minded people that by the end of the week felt like you’d been friends for years. Sharing pots, pans and plenty of un-showered funk was the bond at camp while everyone shared their favorite “Wingnut” quote of the day. The Thompson Pass holds some of the most addicting terrain I’ve set foot in and like many of the smiling faces I encountered I have plans to return next year for as long as the money with stretch.


Erik Morrison and Brandon Cocard-Tailgate-AK-2010-Reid-Morth/IMG_2999.jpg

Erik Morrison and Brandon Cocard taking in the views as the Tusk rises in the background.


Erik Morrison doing some ride and developement for Spark R&D.


Flat Stanleys flying stand-by with ABA Heli guides under the Northern Lights.


Aaron Robinson linking some of his last turns for the day.


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