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Why Ian Walsh Looks To The Backcountry To Train

Maui waterman Ian Walsh has been on some seriously epic trips lately. From summiting Denali last year, to chasing monster swells at Nazarรฉ, there's no stopping Ian from getting after it.

And before ski resorts around the U.S. closed due to Covid-19, he scored some pristine powder days at Jackson Hole with Jimmy Chin -- the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and professional climber and skier.

"This wasn't the biggest climb I've ever done (& Jimmy usually does 50x this before breakfast), but I feel like with all the uncertainty going on right now it really helped me get moving on a safe hike in a clean place without many people," says Walsh.

Walsh grew up surfing on Maui, and has tamed some of the world's biggest and most consequential waves in just about every ocean. In 2017, Walsh won the Pe'ahi Challenge with a committed performance in pristine conditions.

As a Patagonia ambassador, he's also a staunch advocate for sustainable clothing and gear, environmental preservation, and cross-training through other outdoor sports. For Walsh, that's mountaineering and snowboarding.

One of his biggest influences and mentors is Jimmy Chin, who is just about as accomplished as one could get in the mountains. He's skied Mount Everest, survived an avalanche, and made several first ascents throughout the Himalaya Mountains during his career. All of these trips were also done under significant weight of camera equipment, making them that much more impressive.

Recently, Chin has even taken up surfing, and true to his character, he started big - charging outer reef slabs in Nicaragua with the Malloy brothers with the goal of getting barreled for the first time.

Making several trips to Jackson Hole over the years, Walsh swears by cross-training in the mountains as a means to improve his surfing. He actually first learned to snowboard with Andy Irons there. And the biggest lesson that he's applied to his surfing is slowing down.

"When you're surfing Jaws, it's just go, go, go. Snowboarding opened up my mind to seeing what it is you want to do on a wave, before you even drop in," he explains.

He also prefers split boarding and hiking into what he is about to ride. By "earning his turns" in the mountains, Walsh came to realize how much really goes into surfing big waves, gaining a newfound appreciation for the sport he grew up doing.

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