Around the Campfire: 9 camping questions for pro surfer Ian Walsh

Every person has their idyllic camping scenario. It ranges from hundreds of miles off the beaten path to posh glamping resorts along the Pacific Coast Highway.

But whatever side of the spectrum a person falls on, we can all certainly appreciate the simple desire to spend some time outdoors.

On a recent trip to the Oregon coastline to hang out at Hotel Tacoma, we got some time to chat around the campfire with some of Toyota’s biggest action sports athletes.

In this installment of “Around the Campfire” we sat down with professional surfer Ian Walsh. Here’s what camping means to him:

It’s just another day in the wilderness with Ian Walsh. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Ortiz/Dew Tour

What’s your best camping memory?

It was in Alaska, in the middle of nowhere. We were able to get really, really removed and find fun waves and go wandering about without a glimmer of a chance of running into another person. I was with Travis Rice, John Jackson and Eric Jackson. I was with a bunch of snowboarders … but we were surfing. They all surf. That was probably the most memorable.

I’ve also ocean camped on a sailboat, in the middle of nowhere in deep South Pacific. We got pretty good waves, but it was more about the aspect of looking for something new and having no chance of running into anyone else. For injury’s sake, it’s pretty risky. But aside from that it’s about the funnest thing I could do.

So you just like to get way out?

Yeah. Even like right now, just looking around [in Oregon], I’m always driven and curious to look on the other side of that headland. It’s never enough just where you are. The sense of exploration is pretty big for me.

Ian Walsh and Ashley Baxter taking in some serious scenery in Cape Lookout, Oregon. Photo: Jon Perino

What’s your favorite camping food?

The easy stuff: peanut butter and jelly. Make it at home, wrap it up in tin foil. Don’t overthink it.

If you’re going out into the wilderness on a survival expedition and you can bring three things, what do you bring?

A knife, a lighter and a headlamp.

What’s the best camp spot on the planet?

Probably Patagonia. I did a mountaineering expedition there. We camped, and each night we’d walk super far, camp there, wake up, go to the next destination. That’s the best place.

But I actually got hurt there and had to get medevaced out. I blew my knee out crossing a glacier that was 13 miles wide. That was the best and worst camping experience ever. [Laughs.]

What type of camping spot would you recommend for a new camper?

Find somewhere away from people. You’re not going camping to be by more people.

Ian Walsh in his element: outdoors. Photo: Toyota

What’s one place you’d love to camp but haven’t yet?

I would love to do, like, a 21-day trip in the snow and splitboard all of our lines from [the campsite].

It was snowing a lot [in Alaska], but we flew into a pretty removed cabin, which I guess is semi-camping. But I would love to do the tent thing and have your base camp and be able to approach different lines and go just shred from there. When we were camping [in Alaska], we were just surfing.

What’s the sketchiest camping moment you’ve ever experienced?

Actually, I’ve had a quite a few. [Laughs.] But I guess just being really removed and having someone in your crew have a pretty substantial injury. It’s happened quite a few times where a friend of mine got injured. We were in the middle of nowhere and we had a femur break. We had to hike pretty far [to get help].

What’s more useful: machete or fire starter?

Fire starter. I can figure out how to break sticks, but I’m not that good at twisting them together to make fire. [Laughs.]

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