Ice­land :: Surf the Arc­tic Cir­cle

Tracks - - Rapture -

Taken at face value trudg­ing through the snow to reach the surf is a bad idea. It looks amaz­ing on film – all those alpine back­drops and sparkling ice­bergs – but would you se­ri­ously fly 30 hours and wait out weeks of bliz­zards to par­tic­i­pate in what amounts to a very ex­pen­sive form of self-harm? There are dun­geons in Kings Cross that will fa­cil­i­tate that kink at a much bet­ter rate. And yet if you're one of the gob-smacked mil­lions who have watched Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Chris Burkard's Ted Talk "The Joy of Surf­ing in Ice Cold Wa­ter" you may al­ready have bought a 5mm wet­tie. He is so very pas­sion­ate, so very con­vinc­ing and his pho­to­graphs are so oth­er­worldly beau­ti­ful. A trip to Mars looks dull com­pared to an Arc­tic ad­ven­ture with Burkard at the wheel. The pho­tog­ra­pher made his name shoot­ing glam­orous trop­i­cal waves around the planet but be­came stale and bored re­turn­ing to the same old tourist strips. He wanted some­thing more. In Ice­land he found it bob­bing in freez­ing wa­ter while a snow­storm howled and his blood rushed to his vi­tal or­gans and he nearly blacked out from the pain and the ex­treme cold. To ex­plain why this mo­ment was also one of the hap­pi­est in his life he quotes the psy­chol­o­gist Brock Bas­tian: "Pain is a short cut to mind­ful­ness. It makes us sud­denly aware of ev­ery­thing in the en­vi­ron­ment. It bru­tally draws us into a vir­tual sen­sory aware­ness of the world much like med­i­ta­tion." If it's ad­ven­ture amid the majesty of the nat­u­ral world you're af­ter you'll find it and much else in the Arc­tic. Two other fac­tors rec­om­mend ex­treme cold wa­ter des­ti­na­tions like Norway, Rus­sia, Alaska, Patag­o­nia and the Far­row Is­lands. While in­con­sis­tent, they can get se­ri­ously good: thick bar­relling slabs, long juicy points and well-groomed beach breaks are out there in the snow. And they rarely if ever get crowded (thanks in part to a mid­night sun in the summer months). If you're even a tiny bit cu­ri­ous check out Burkard's pho­to­graphs and short films. And maybe "warm up" with a win­ter trip to New Zealand's South Is­land.

THE ONLY CROWD TO WORRY ABOUT IN THE ARC­TIC ARE THE ICE­BERGS. PHOTO: CODY WELSH

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