photos: Connor Trimble
From Tailgate Alaska:
Valdez, Alaska – March 28, 2017 – Tailgate Alaska wrapped up the now legendary tenth annual event on Thompson Pass on March 26, making it the longest running, purely wintersports event in Alaska.
Alaska is the dream of snowboarders from around the world and for ten years, Tailgate Alaska has helped make the trip safe, affordable and unforgettable.
According to Swiss carpenter Pirmin Wey, "This year the snow wasn't the best, but we had an amazing time anyway."
The ten day long festival kicked off on St. Patrick's Day to blue skies and the aftermath of a major wind event that stripped the mountains of their normal fluffy bounty. Determined to make the most of their time, participants took part in a variety of classes taught by the Alaska Avalanche Information Center. At night, Tailgaters bonded around the fires, and took part in the 10 Barrel Brewing complimentary beer garden, served from a giant wooden barrel, under the northern lights.
For it's tenth anniversary Tailgate Alaska brought out the legendary Shoot Dangs as well as Blackwater Railroad and Orion Donicht to perform on the 'main stage.' The evening culminated with fireworks and a ceremonial burning of a wooden "10", celebrating ten years of both Tailgate Alaska and 10 Barrel Brewing.
This year, Tailgate Alaska hosted its largest number of splitboarders and skinners as they made the best out of the conditions. With international groups heading in all directions from basecamp, a majority of attendees saw the area by foot. Riders who brought snowmobiles explored the area further, coming up with phenomenal snow conditions, "As good as I have seen here," according to seven time attendee and Fairbanks local Dustin Miller.
The event wrapped up Saturday night with a benefit party that was packed elbow to elbow and lasted into the wee hours of the morning at Valdez's Boardroom. The $750 that was raised will ensure that all parking areas beyond the Tailgate Alaska parking lot are clean after the snow melts, as Tailgate Alaska is sponsoring an Alaska Avalanche Information Center clean-up of all camping sites in the area.
"Our goal is to have everyone go home a little smarter about participating in the backcountry. I believe we accomplished this and much more. Out here, everyone looks out for each other. It really creates a unique camaraderie, unlike I have experienced at other events." said event founder Mark Sullivan.
Ultimately, Tailgate Alaska is about creating unique and pinnacle mountain experiences through mentorship and brotherhood for those that covet the ultimate mountains and snow conditions that Valdez, Alaska offers. "This year it went too quickly. I am already thinking about next year." according to Pam Robinson, six time participant and mother of professional snowboarding brothers Jason and Aaron Robinson.
As the season storms on in Valdez, Alaska, the Tailgate Alaska Family returned to all points on the globe, from Australia to Austria, and Ireland to Russia, fulfilled with new mountain experiences, friendships and knowledge, and a deep desire to return next year, because even after years of riding and exploring these mountains, you still have everything to learn.