Wow – where has the time gone? The 10 or so days back in California after the whirlwind that was Vancouver 2010 and my side trip to New York have been even more hectic. No rest for the wicked I guess…and I prefer to have projects to work on. It makes me less likely to waste those rare free-ride days by sleeping in.
A lot of snow has disappeared in Tahoe since early Feb, but Pete Long and Darragh Walsh both found some warm-up features to shoot one night near home. Longy’s air-through-tree-branches to flat was pretty gnarly, but got a little interrupted when some local douchebags came out to heckle him. You’ll see an “atmospheric” shot (ie – only one of the three flashes fired) in the attached gallery.
A couple days later on the Monday we started the long drive south down US Hwy 395 through Carson City, and Mammoth (to pick up Jake McCarthy) all the way to magical Los Angeles. I took the three guys down as part of a magazine trip idea I had had for a while: basically, a surf, snowboard, skate and party trip to the City of Angels. Very few Australians realise that California actually has mountains and skifields, let alone that there are handful of progressive freestyle resorts within 3 hours drive of Hollywood!
I’d organised some cheap rooms at the pimping Hotel Erwin right on the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk, and directly opposite the brand new skatepark, basketball courts (where I got my white-men-can-dunk on) and Muscle Beach (where Darragh, inspired by Mr Muscle Robbie Walker, sparred up against the local hard bodies). Longy was in his element (not least because the hotel restaurant was called “Hash”, and the rooftop bar “High”) as he was surrounded by skaters, surfers, tattoo parlours, cafes…and hot California girls. Ol’ Pete is pretty impressive riding transitions and we got some nice shots in Venice before heading south to the semi-ghetto docks and refineries of San Pedro to an underground community skatepark. The San Pedro skatepark was started illegally on a vacant lot under a freeway overpass, and slowly grew through the work of volunteers into a legit triple-bowl setup that the council had to then recognise and authorise. It was great from a photography point of view as it was quite dark under the freeway and meant the three small Canon Speedlight flashes I had didn’t need to overpower the sun and could be utilised to the maximum. Again Longy shredded concrete, and Jake nailed a nice backside smith grind and frontside crailslide. A local grommet was ripping, and I snapped a couple shots of him (not everyone worked out exactly as I wanted though, but I was happy with the shots of the Aussie crew).
The next day we finally got to hit the snow, checking out of Hotel Erwin and making the Mt Baldy carpark in under 1 hour 30! Mt Baldy reminded of a dodgy Mt Hotham: run-down and haphazard, but great steep terrain, deep gullies and twisting banked trails for jibbing everywhere. Bear Mountain was another great mountain, and lived up to expectations – jib and freestyle city. And I was amazed at how much snow was down in SoCal: so much more than up in Tahoe!
The weather was forecast to roll in, so we high-tailed it back to Hollywood (in under 2 and a half hours) to fulfil the other trip requirement: partying! The others were pretty tired from a few days skating and snowboarding, and low on cash so we headed to the famous rock ‘n’ rollin’ Rainbow Bar and Grill for a few beers…and bumped into Ron Jeremy and his massive package. Man, he looks so seedy in person with his salt and pepper porn mo’. Saturday was for shopping and exploring Fairfax Avenue (and seeing Darragh froth out over a bunch of “exclusive” streetware shop labels I’d never heard of) and a mellow night out again before we hit the road again to Mountain High.
Again we were there within one and a half hours (and without the winding access road that both Baldy and Bear had), and with the West resort all lit up, we had till 10pm to get the goods. We’d been cruisin’ round West Hollywood in 20 degrees and sunshine, and rock ‘n’ roll McCarthy was in jeans, denim jacket, fingerless gloves and sunglasses to shred…shame about the wicked blizzard and fog that rolled in off the Pacific Ocean to ruin his fun. He nearly had a major spaz attack, he was so cold. But after he found some extra layers to rug up with we got some shots and by 8pm were on the road north again. The boys were keen to get back home, but with food and petrol stops we didn’t get back to Mammoth till 2am, and to Tahoe till 5am!. To say we were knackered would be an understatement. But it was a great, action packed 6 days: we got the shots, had a heap of fun, saw a lot of new things (and a few celebrities). You’ll be able to check out the full report in Australian-New Zealand Snowboarder Magazine this winter, but here’s a few shots to whet your appetite.