Skiing on Waves: Chuck Patterson’s Latest Wild Ride

Meet Chuck Pat­ter­son — one of the most ver­sa­tile out­door ath­letes out there. He’s got an impres­sive adven­ture resume includ­ing accom­plish­ments as a ski racer and surfer, and most recently, as a com­pet­i­tive stand-up pad­dler. He’s also a pretty decent video­g­ra­pher; he shot the clip below off the coast of South­ern California.

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In addi­tion to all of these other hob­bies, Pat­ter­son has another pas­time that few other men have attempted, let alone mas­tered. He’s an accom­plished ski surfer — or is it surf skier? Either way, here’s how his most recent con­quest went down:

Last month, Chuck and some of his bud­dies were ski­ing in the Sierra Moun­tains. Upon receiv­ing word that a major storm was con­jur­ing up some major swells off the coast of Hawaii, the group imme­di­ately switched into surfer mode and headed down­hill. But Chuck faced a dilemma: if he returned home to fetch his surf­board, then he might miss out on all the sweet breaks. So he decided to impro­vise. A few hours later, he was rid­ing the waves on his skis, boots strapped in and poles in hand.

This wasn’t Chuck’s first time ski­ing on waves. Accord­ing to GrindTV, Pat­ter­son has actu­ally been ski surf­ing for more than 14 years — but until recently, the ski­ing equip­ment was not refined enough to han­dle the surf. Then, in early 2011, he pulled off a seem­ingly impos­si­ble feat by suc­cess­fully ski­ing Jaws (Pe’ahi), a 50-feet mon­ster that is con­sid­ered one of the largest swells in Hawaii. And thank­fully, his epic ride was caught on camera:

“I had a good idea that it was pos­si­ble, but it really made a big dif­fer­ence hav­ing a solid back­ground in ski­ing and big wave/tow-in surf­ing to really push it in big waves,” Pat­ter­son told Transworld Surf. “There is a lot that goes into mak­ing it all hap­pen safely even before you hit the water, and after that is when the fun begins.”

In a recent inter­view with SUP Mag­a­zine, he admit­ted that the sport of ski surf­ing is incred­i­bly unsafe. The ski bind­ings and boots pre­vent him from ditch­ing if things get hairy, and land­ing in the wrong spot could eas­ily result in a bro­ken leg (or worse). He added that the poles are actu­ally quite help­ful. “The first day [at Pe’ahi] was big and bumpy, but the sec­ond, the wind dialed back and it was a lot cleaner so I could do some curves on the face,” he recalled. “The ski poles made it feel nat­ural and gave me extra bal­ance – I could feel where I needed to be.”

At 43, Chuck Pat­ter­son shows no signs of slow­ing down. You never know what to expect next from this accom­plished ath­lete, but what­ever it is, it will prob­a­bly be awesome.