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.