By now you should know that Eric Jackson is no longer just John's little brother. Lining up stellar parts in Standard Films last three releases, E-Jack has evolved from a kicker kid with big style into an all-terrain beast with straight "man" style. Back with a vengeance after an injury postponed his preseason, Eric headed to Haines, Alaska this past April to round out his video part for Black Winter. But here there are no givens, and this trip proved yet another building block in this young riders career where as he put it, "Right now, I am all about learning more and more about snowboarding and there is no better place than Alaska."
So how did AK treat you this year?
Well we were up there for about three weeks with Travis Robb from Standard Films and Mark Landvik. It was a super interesting trip, that's for sure. AK is a pretty crazy place so it's been pretty cool spinin' it with Mark who is from up here. I have met so many cool people up here, plus the mountains are just insane.
How did you get up there?
We drove! It was sick. It took a while ya know, like three days, but we just banged it out. We would just drive super fast but take a lot of breaks. There are barely any people on the road but when you do see them they are all waving to you and shit...
Yeah, I noticed that as well. Once you get into Alaska the people in these little towns like Valdez or Haines are pretty friendly; they aren't bummed at all that a select group of snowboarders invade their zone every spring.
Haines is super tight. It almost reminds me of where I am from near Mammoth. The people you meet up here are so cool. Within a couple days of meeting this one dude we were out on his boat pulling crab pots! We had crab for days! When the snow conditions are spotty like it was this go round, it is such a bonus to have fun down daysotherwise you can start to crack. So I was fishing a bunch. I love it up there and it's definitely something I want to do every year.
Had you been up before?
I went up to Valdez with my brother John like three years ago. We were only there for about two weeks and that was a pretty rough trip. The avy conditions were hairy and our guide situation kinda sucked, but those are just a couple of the variables that make it such a hit or miss thing. In Alaska you either get it, or you don't.
So what do you think of it?
The mountains up here are crazy. Definitely some of the most amazing features you will ever see. We got to heli a couple of days in there when the weather and snow conditions allowed and got a good little taste of this place. I tumbled down some lines...all sorts of stuff. I kind of got my ass kicked a little bit to tell you the truth.
What is your favorite thing about up here?
To me Alaska is about pushing the limits of your riding a little bit more and seeing just what you are capable of. It's a gnarly place to snowboard. You can learn a lot, that's for sure. And really that's what I am all about right now; I just want to keep learning and continue to push it further and further.
What is the worst?
I think the avalanche factor has to be the worst or scariest part about riding up there. Big mountains equal big avy's. So there is always that feeling when you are dropping a big face and you know there is the possibility of something ripping out on ya'. It keeps you on your toesthat's for sure. That and the weather I guess. Most of the time we were there was not spent snowboarding. After a few good days in the beginning the weather turned and it just rained and snowed for days, then when things were clearing out some wind came in from the north and just scoured everything... and that was it. Done.
You really just have to expect anything right?
That, or do not expect anything. Down in southeast AK the weather is so unpredictable it's confusing. It can be snowing in town and clear up on the pass, but that's part of the game. That's the gamble and that's part of why we love it.
As a kid riding Mammoth did you ever think that Alaska of all places was something in your snowboarding future?
Well coming up I was a total contest kid. I was on the circuit and did the Triple Crowns and the Grand Prix, all kinds of things. I was more focused on that than anything. Then I discovered pow, like real powder shredding and I never went back to the contest scene. When I was about 15 I kind of shifted gears and all of the powder riding since, and hooking up with Standard Films all led to this I suppose.
Do you ride a certain set up specific to this kind of terrain?
Right now I am on Lib's new C2 BTX, which basically has the banana tech between your feet and camber from the bindings out. As far as boards go that's pretty much it for me. It is the most responsive board I have ever been on. I also have to say that without my Nike boots I would be pretty much worthless. They are the most comfortable boots in the history of snowboarding!
What kind of potential does AK hold for you?
It's just limitless. I guess it is up to the individual, ya know. When I was up there Jeremy Jones and Travis Rice were camped out on some glacier 60 miles out! So there are all kinds of options, it's just what you are ready for.