What does it feel like to ride down the volcano? Who was the best/worst out of the group?
For me it was so surreal, like you just shouldn’t be doing this. It's the ultimate fish-out-of-water type situation. Your skis just don’t run the same at all, so physically you're tensing everything trying to hold it all together. And there's the whole mental side of things – hearing the volcano explode into life while you stand near the summit, the ground shaking as you stare up into the storm of ash and rock that starts raining down on you, whipped on by wind and try to see any rocks that might smite you. It's pretty biblical in a sense.
I’m going out on a limb here and saying Xav was the worst as he crashed a few times, I just think his board seemed to get the most friction and catch the most, but he would just roll and keep ripping, as you know he's Xavier de le Rue and he’s a pitbull. Victor really impressed me. He flew all the way from Scotland, missing flights, finding Xavier’s gear at the airport and then journeying further to this random island, to get on a truck with some locals who dropped him off in this crazy, explosive landscape and we made him boot up right away, hike to the top and ride an exploding volcano. Not many people just go along with such a stupid plan.
How does it compare to snow?
Sadly it is nowhere near as good as snow, so there goes that solution for climate change. Everything is slower. You have to be careful not to catch an edge as that’s pretty easy and also you have to dodge the rocks, which I guess is kind of like skiing. But yeah just slow from the hugely increased friction on your ski bases. It was also really hard on your legs to hold everything in control. My thighs would just be burning from halfway down and screaming at me to stop.
What did you wear for the riding?
I was trying to channel Hunter S. Thompson from that scene in Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas where they ride around in the desert trying to cover the motorcycle race in a huge dust storm. So camouflage buff over the face, black Giro goggle helmet combo for stealth, yellow and red rose print hawaiian shirt and my trusty Freethinker bib pants in orange from The North Face. I skied a pair of Volkl One skis, thinking rocker might slide better on ash. My results....were inconclusive.
What kind of damage did it do to your equipment?
Oh man, it was so tough on everything! My skis were totally ruined, ground down to the core. I left them with Fred who ran our camp near the volcano, as he thought they were neat. Goggles were hard to see through, as they were totally exfoliated by the windblown ash. The drones got pretty beat up trying to fly through ash clouds but the worst were the cameras. The lenses got scratched, all the focus rings were barely turning, just stuck hard with grit and ash and everything had to be sent away to be cleaned as they were nearly stuffed.