After visiting Lake Tahoe, California, it was time to head north away from the golden state and in to Oregon. I arrived in a coastal town about three hours southwest of Portland just in time for one of the first swells of the surf season. The name of the town is pretty familiar; nevertheless, the locals like to keep it under wraps, and since they treated me with respect the whole time I was there I owe them the same. Suffice to say this place is home to one of the heaviest waves in the world–something the locals call “The Slab.” It can be an extremely dangerous wave to surf if you don’t know what you’re doing. Even getting there is risky, as you have to Jet Ski out to the Slab, navigating 10- to 12-foot heavy closeout sections as you ride away from the beach. You also have to pray that you don’t fall off your ski into the freezing, shark-infested waters below you. Luckily for me, I had hooked up with a team of four tow-in experts from the Oregon Surf Shop. Thanks to this humble, passionate, and hard-charging group, I got to sample a bit of what The Slab is all about, and it was quite the adventure spot. Below are a few images from our little escapade.
A local named Tyler Cunningham, who let me crash at his house, and I rose before sunrise to check the conditions. Although it was a little stormy, we though there was great potential, so we decided to make the journey to The Slab, because the only way to find out if the conditions are right is to see for yourself.
Getting out there was pretty miserable, as the cold air mixed with the wet rain and splashing sea as we sped through the open ocean. In this photo surfer Jeremy Rasmussen shields his face while he peeks through his fingers to steer. I hide behind him, trying to stay protected from the wind while still sneaking a look from time to time so I can enjoy the moment.
The crew heading out to The Slab. Getting out there requires patience, a deep understanding of the ocean, and expert skills on a Jet Ski.
After 30 minutes on the Jet Ski, we finally pull up to the break, and it wasn’t looking like much of anything. But after waiting around for a few minutes, a good-size set came through and the boys got ready to jump in.
Rasmussen celebrating the first good swell of the season at The Slab, one of Oregon’s most revered big-wave surfs spots. It’s been featured in the Billabong XXL Wave of the Year and Wipeout of the Year categories.
Rasmussen moved out to Oregon from Hawaii nine years ago. The Oregon water isn’t quite as alluring as Hawaii’s, but he has no complaints after a day like this.
Cunningham is only 19 years old and didn’t surf the Slab while I visited, but he’s learning from the veterans and training to surf it as soon as he can. I predict this will be sooner rather than later, as I found him to be beyond his years in terms of his knowledge of the sport and his overall skill as a surfer.
The crew has been working together for a while, so it was a cool experience watching first-hand how tow surfing is done. Here Keith Galbraith, who helped orchestrate our mission, gets a nice backside ride.
Local Tony Perez knows this wave well, and it definitely shows when you watch him surf. In the photo above he is on one of the last waves of the session–another perfect barrel.
Every time you leave this break with a few barrels and no injuries, you’re definitely thankful. Perez, left, and Rasmussen are stoked on the morning–not bad for the first session of the season!
More Travis’ Travels on GrindTV:
Time traveling through Randsburg, California
Exploring past and present in Palm Springs
Thrilling new sport fostered above Lake Tahoe
Visiting the White Mountains and the oldest creatures on Earth
Fear dodging and cliff jumping in Lake Tahoe