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Austin Will getting airborne in Portland. Photo Alex Mertz
Portland, Oregon is a weird place. The city’s attitude towards skateboarding is legendary. No pads, concrete parks, and a fuck you attitude keeps the Portland skate scene alive and well. Portland also happens to be just an hour from Mt. Hood. The same Mt. Hood that hosts both Windells and High Cascade Snowboard Camp (HCSC), that hosted millions of shoots for all the big wig companies, and the same mountain that is better than yours.
For better or for worse, Portland has become a bit of a snowboard mecca, and we’re not just saying that because we live here. The city is home to a few companies (Holden, Bonfire, Salomon, Grenade, Airblaster, Atmosphere, Nike, etc.) and a slew of pro-boarder folk. But this is odd, because it never snows in Portland. Maybe an inch or two every other year at best. 2008 however, Portland was hit hard. A “100-year storm” shut down the city, shut down the airport, and allowed those lucky enough to already be there to explore the what the city had to offer. After ten days of snowfall in the city it was go time for a few of Portland’s local snowboarders.
Austin Will, Max Mayfield, Alex Burton, and Alex Mertz were in Portland during the record breaking snowfall. Oddly enough, many native Oregonians (Nick Dirks, Jarad Hadi, Tyler Verigan and most importantly, myself) were stranded in Utah, waiting for a chance to get on a plane headed to Portland. Those enjoying the snow ran into the blizzard to see what possibilities lay in a normally snowless city. Powder jumps were built, rails were slid, and hot chocolate was brewed. Portland’s best snowfall in 60 years could only be enjoyed by a few, but enjoy it they did.
Austin Will getting on top of a virgin handrail. Photo Alex Mertz
Austin, Max, and Alex ran around the streets looking for things to jump and slide until Alex (Hazard) Burton tore up his knee. It wasn’t too bad, just a broken heel, and torn ACL and MCL. Alex was hurt, but the doctors at the local hospital didn’t agree and told him to go home. Later that week a doctor with a brain informed Alex of his injuries. Suck for him, but Austin, Max, and Mertz weren’t about to throw in the towel. They set off to explore the Portland backcountry. The legendary Portland Zoo Bomb, a long scary hill, was even tackled. Mertz ranked that trip as the best. “We took the train up there with a bunch of kooks, and just rallied down to the bottom, it was rad.”
The jump zone turned out to be Mt. Tabor. Austin spent days finding lines in said winter wonderland. “Our jump was in a line. After the jump there was a hip, after that you could hit a storm drain that was pretty tall, jump a fence, or bail into the street where you could just keep riding. Pretty bitchin’.”
Max Mayfield showing a proper Method. Photo Alex Mertz
Actual reports marked up to 18 inches of snow in the Portland area and much more in the surrounding hills. Gresham, which is just next door to Portland, had to declare a national emergency. Pretty funny when you consider most cities chug through storms much worse on a regular basis. The complete meltdown of civilization keeps Portland fresh though. When Portland sees snow, shit shuts down and snowboarding begins.