Ryan Hargrave is living a good life. Growing up in North County, San Diego, he was raised on the ocean and weened in the mountains. These days, Hargrave splits time between Encinitas (where he works as a loan officer and does big wave safety for the WSL) and the Eastern Sierra, where he’s been absolutely killing it the last couple of seasons in the backcountry.
“There’s a lot of parallels between water safety and big wave surfing at a place like Cortes Bank, and putting yourself and a crew 15 miles out in the mountains,” Hargrave says. “I lucked into a really solid group of friends (in Mammoth) who like to ride the backcountry. It’s about assessing the terrain and the conditions so we can ask ourselves, ‘How many risks are we willing to take?”
This I’m certain of–Hargrave has his ghost ride on lockdown. The man knows his machines, be it jetski or snowmobile: “It didn’t make sense to live in a mountain town without a sled,” he says. The ghost ride isn’t an entirely novel concept in the backcountry, especially when the numbers don’t work out. Sometimes you don’t have a shuttle driver. So Hargrave lets his steed go in a beautiful cirque somewhere in the wilds of the Eastern Sierra, utilizing the mini step-off technique by playing the throttle a bit while strapped into his board to get the snowmobile moving downhill. Then he shreds a sweet little line next to it. Here’s another angle:
Hargrave just got back from the wildly-inconsistent Nazaré Big Wave contest and is awaiting the updated Big Wave schedule that the WSL is expected to release soon. In the meantime, he’ll enjoy more days like this: