Back in 2002, a couple years after I got my first splitboard, a friend of mine (Steeleman) turned me on to what would become one of my favorite splitboard zones in California, The Eastside. Ever since then I’ve made the annual pilgrimage each spring creating many great memories with friends along the way.
During that first trip I couldn’t help keep my eyes off a sweet looking couloir we passed on our way to the summit. On the way back down I climbed up the line and enjoyed some great spring-turns down the beauty. I later named her the S-Couloir and a tradition was born.
Chris Gallardo, Gray Thompson, Eric Messier, Skyler Gallardo
Now that you know the backstory, fast forward 12 years and 14 trips later. When the calendar says April and May (sometimes June too) it’s time to start planning for the Eastside and this year was no different. Along with me came my 18 year old son Skyler who’s been snowboarding since age 4 and splitboarding since age 13. As usual, we’d utilize an afternoon approach to have fresh legs for the next day. Our friends Eric Messier and Gray Thompson from Warp Wave would meet us later that night at camp. Usually the access road to the area doesn’t open until Memorial Day requiring a 2-mile slog up a dirt road so we were pleasantly surprised to find it had literally just opened a couple hours before we got there. Our timing was perfect!
Later that night, (a couple hours later than expected) I saw two tiny headlamps moving our way, it was the Eric and Gray! Everyone was stoked for the next day’s mission.
After a windy night’s sleep we rallied up the mountain. It’s always fun hanging with the Warp Wave crew and having my son along was the icing on the cake. He’s been journeying with me into the mountains since he could walk and seeing those years of hiking, snowboarding, and splitboarding come together on this trip was awesome. He made me proud.
In the early days of hitting this line we used to climb up the couloir to the crux and hit it from there. Sometime around the mid 2000’s with the help of my friend Jimw we starting dropping in from the top which has now become the new norm.
Before we knew it we were on top of the line and ready to drop. Gray was across the valley shooting video and Eric dropped first. It was his first time in the line but he made himself right at home, ollie’n the rocks in the choke and ripping it to the bottom.
At this point, as a father, I started getting a little worried about what I was getting my son into. I knew it was safe and I knew he had the skills to ride it but accidents can happen. I wasn’t expecting to suddenly be overcome with a worried and uneasy feeling that only a parent knows. After a couple minutes and trying to talk Skyler out of it (he wasn’t having it) I collected myself and dropped in, stopping at the crux so I could talk him through it. We wiggled through the rocky choke with more emphasis on safety than style and I finished out the line. At the bottom I gave Skyler the go-ahead and he rode it like a champ! The emotions running through my body where euphoric and I knew we’d remember this moment forever.
With everyone safe and sound at the bottom we exchanged high fives and hugs, these are the moments we live for.