Garrett McNamara glacier surfing

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Glacier big wave surfing

It looks like at least someone will benefit from the global warming. Big wave surfing tow in team – Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala are heading to Alaska this summer to surf some big waves. They are heading all the way to the glaciers. I can hear you saying, surfing waves that break over solid ice…it’s been done before. Hell, with the new heated wetsuit it will become an everyday thing. But what these guys are up to looks more like dynamite surfing to me.

What Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala are planning to surf are waves generated by big chunks of ice breaking of the glacier and hitting water. And when I say big chunks I mean cataclysmic collapse of the glacier, you can see in the video at the end just how big the falling piece of ice is. The result of all this ice falling into the sea is a tsunami wave.

Tsunami waves and surfing

Glacier SurfingAccording to wikipedia the result of a big piece of land hitting sea can not only be tsunami but megatsunam! The trick is that when the shit hits the fan the mass of water can not spread around in all directions because it is limited by the land. So all the energy focuses in one direction. Now if this direction is facing a bay and not open sea, the wave gets even bigger. The biggest recorded wave in history was the result of a massive landslide and yes it happened in Alaska. Scientist noticed there was something funny about the trees in one of the Alaska bays. They did not grow all the way to the water and trees higher up looked like they were hit by something coming from the shore. Much higher up. Big wave maybe?

The theory was confirmed when on July 10, 1958 after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake a big chunk of land land slided into the sea and sent water surging across Lituya Bay. The water on the opposite side of the bay reached 524 meters (1719ft) above the sea level!! Wave traveling along the bay measured 333 meters (1092ft) in height and when it flowed over the entrance to the bay the height reached about 350 meters (1148ft).

If this is not crazy enough – two people were on the boat fishing that day in the bay. Howard Ulrich and his son, Howard Jr.  tried to get over the wave and they both survived!!

This is not exactly what Garrett McNamara and Kealii Mamala have in mind but it gives you a picture of what a big chunk of something falling into water can do :)

Both tow in surfers will pitch a tent on the shores of the glacial coastline in Alaska from late July through August 15th. They are one of the best tow in teams out there,  Garrett McNamara  got XXL Big Wave “Performer of the Year” award and became the first surfer to get towed into waves behind a helicopter.

Garrett McNamara Blah Blah

Scouting glaciers for waves “In this case, it’s not as much about riding big waves as it is about exploring a new surfing frontier. This phenomenon of tsunami-generating glaciers has been going on since the Ice Age but it has taken all these years to develop the equipment, technique and experience necessary to make an attempt.”

Scouting Alaska Glaciers for waves

The creator and producer of the glacier project, Ryan Casey ‘discovered’ a glacier wave a dozen years ago. He was filming Alaska: Spirit of the Wild and what caught his eye were consistent, peeling waves generated as full faces of ice repeatedly sheared off into the water.

Ryan Casey Blah Blah

“When the ice hits the water, it creates a massive explosion that rockets spray and chunks of ice – some as big as trucks – hundreds of feet into the air. It’s that enormous displacement of water that generates the wave. The height of the wave can be misleading, dwarfed by the shear 400-foot cliff of ice behind it. The glacier is highly unpredictable. You can’t predict which section of the glacier will be the next to go, or how large the piece will be. Towing directly at the massive explosion of water and ice following a calve, Garrett and Kealii won’t know if they are getting whipped into a 5ft. wave or a 50ft. wave until it’s too late to turn back. But if anyone can pull off this mission, you can bet it will be them.”

Nuff talk, watch how the thing looks in real life – footage from the “Glacier surfing” scouting mission:

They Did it – Watch them Surf Glacier Waves!

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