Kai Lenny Puts The Fear Of God In Travis Rice, Rides Out Avalanche In Alaska Backcountry As Snowboard White Belt - Stab Mag

Through The Doggy Door Goes Live Thursday 5pm PT

Will Kai return the favour and tow Travis into a 50-foot Peahi closeout?

Kai Lenny Puts The Fear Of God In Travis Rice, Rides Out Avalanche In Alaska Backcountry As Snowboard White Belt

Talk about getting towed into a closeout.

cinema // Jun 25, 2023
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Travis Rice is one of surfing’s biggest man crushes.

In Blake Keuny’s The Best Surfing I’ve Ever Seen shot at Cobblestones in West Australia in 2012, Blake explains “John [Florence], Albee [Layer] and Matt [Meola] would go back to the house every night and watch Travis Rice in the backcountry to figure out how to grab and rotate. They would go out the following day and tick off tricks with a checklist mentality”. 

The result of those Rice-inspired sessions, was one of the most mind-blowing displays of aerial surfing that later featured in View from a Blue Moon – the most expensive surf film produced in the past 15 years with a budget of $2 million USD. As a side note: JJF actually purchased Travis Rice’s 48-foot Gunboat catamaran, Falcor of him in 2017 for a figure shy of $1.7 million – coincidentally, his first inter-island voyage was to Kai Lenny’s local big wave break in Jaws, Maui.

Funny lil love triangle

Apparently when Travis said, “If an avalanche breaks, the first thing you should do before pulling an airbag, is to try and get out of it”, Kai got the memo.

While the affinity of surf and snow has been around long before Alan Green and John Law, co-founders of Quiksilver, first designed the ‘mountain inside a wave’ in 1973, Travis’ approach, particularly to the backcountry (as opposed to park), similarly contingent on natural miracles, has that core (gosh I hate that word) and aspirational destination-unknown thing about it.

That ‘new spots, new lines’ was something Noa Deane was adamant on honouring in his 30-minute opus Noz Vid, which won Stab’s film of the year in 2022 and was shot at “80% bodyboarding waves.

Ever heard the term ‘sluff’? “A sluff is synonymous with a loose snow avalanche but normally refers to a small release and is often associated with human triggering. Sluff is common while riding on steep slopes,” according to Avalanche Canada. The more you know, hey?

The following Red Bull Life of Kai episode features almost no surfing, and much premium Alaskan pow pow. Talk about a transferable skill set in riding out that avalanche as a backcountry novice with limited experience. Travis’ chuckle of bewilderment is a pretty good indication of Kai’s learned situational awareness, no doubt a byproduct of putting himself in the thickest of hairs in the biggest of swells for the past twenty odd years.

Travis’ quote conservative is a relative term, I suppose,” nonchalantly pointing out the biggest Alaskan kicker to fly off is great too.

Quite looking forward to seeing Kai return serve and tow Travis into a 50-foot closeout at Jaws.

Shades of Shaun Cansdell. Photo by Red Bull


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