Chuck Patterson had grown up skiing dangerous big-mountain terrain; he had also surfed plenty of large, thunderous waves.
But never, until recently, had he or anyone else donned skis and used them to surf the gargantuan swells at a notoriously treacherous spot called Jaws, off the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Patterson, a popular freeskier and trained racer from Lake Tahoe, who spends part of each winter in Hawaii, traveled to Jaws recently to greet an arriving swell (see video). Dozens of tow-surfers, those who are pulled onto fast-moving swells behind personal watercraft, were on hand. Patterson was the only one wearing two planks, boots, bindings … and carrying ski poles.
Patterson clearly proved that with specialized skiing equipment the towering waves at Jaws can be ridden with style and poise, just like mountains of snow.