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The Local Crew Series: Floating on a Wave–How Warp Wave is Merging Surfing and Snowboarding

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a four-part Q+A series where we profile some of the most colorful and talented crews from mountain towns across North America to get a behind-the-scenes look at how they operate, how their home mountains influenced their styles and what they are planning on for the future. For our final interview, we caught up with Warp Wave from Tahoe, and spoke with them about their goal to merge surfing and snowboarding.

Felix Mobarg rides the wave. Mikey Leblanc photo.

If you were to take all of the stylish and core principles that evolved from the origins of snowboarding and apply them to a group of riders you would find yourself in the dimension of Warp Wave. This Tahoe-based crew founded by Eric Messier and Gray Thompson have transformed their ideas and concepts of what snowboarding is and used them to produce unconventional films that straddle the line of art and action. As much as the role of filming and editing adds an element to their lives, their perception of snowboarding is purely generated by love of the white wave and a genuine devotion to the turn.

“Starting Warp Wave was a big step into the unknown,” says Gray Thompson, co-founder of Warp Wave in 2012 and United Shapes Snowboards in 2014. “It was just the two of us experimenting with ideas.”

These experiments led to collaborations and friendships with local riders that further solidified the bond of the group and the passion of getting out and making turns.

“Some days there are for sure objectives and some are more freestyle,” says Tucker Andrews, who grew up in Crested Butte, Colorado and joined the group upon moving out to Tahoe. “You get out there, feel the snow, the conditions and make something happen.”

While the group consistently rides together, for many in the crew the culminating highlight of their time together was the filming of Aurora Boardealis, a film the crew put documenting the high Sierra snow surf scene.A heavy crew of friends spent a good portion of the winter camping and on big splitting boarding missions painting the Eastern Sierra Mountains with slashes and turns. “The year we filmed the full movie we all rode together a lot, it ruled,” says Andrews, “the weather was so consistent and perfect for filming.”

We caught up with the crew at the forefront of merging surfing with snowboarding to hear about their unique mindset towards riding and what motivates them to push the boundaries.

Name

Warp Wave

Location

North Tahoe, California

Number and Names

Eric Messier, Gray Thompson, Nick Russell, Tucker Andrews, Felix Mobarg, Curtis Woodsman, Taylor Carlton, Zander Blackmon, Johnny Brady, Jackson Fowler, etc.

How did this crew come together and how long have you all been skiing or snowboarding together?

Gray Thompson: The concept and birth of ‘Warp Wave’ spurred over coffee one summer day with my close friend, Eric Messier. Our goal was to document snowboarding the way we view it. Local friends we’d always ride with naturally were involved with Warp Wave and once the momentum really picked up the larger crew came together in a sort of magnetic effect.

Tucker Andrews: I sort of jumped into the crew after it had become pretty established. I moved to Truckee in the fall of ’14 and was camping and living out at Tim and Hannah Eddy’s property getting used to the new lifestyle when Gray came over for a BBQ one night. He had an extra room at his house in Kings Beach so I moved in next week and we started plotting shred trips and movie ideas. I had known Gray for a bunch of years before I moved out to Tahoe; we had spent some time ripping up at Mt. Baker but honestly not to0 many days on the slopes together. I essentially moved to Tahoe to get more involved in the snowboarding scene and was supper happy to have linked up with Gray, Messi, and the gang when I did.

Mobarg shows that you can throw a bit of spray away from the ocean. Mikey Leblanc photo.

Curtis Woodsman: It’s basically a bunch of Grays and Messi's good surf buds that all have their own unique way of surfing down dem hills.

How would you describe the posse?

GT: Our “posse” is vivid and authentic, full of life, and thirsty for adventures and good times in the mountains. Everyone embodies such a special style in my eyes, and everyone compliments each other’s styles and vibes.

TA:Unique and positive, everyone is so fun to snowboard with because of their personal take on it, just good humans interested in good things.

CW: Fresh, salty, greased up and blissed out

Is there a specific process if one wants to become a part of the crew?

GT: One must provide an all-inclusive trip for the existing crew to somewhere exotic, preferably tropical, where we can really get to know you! Ha. I think it’s a purely natural process, the right people come into the picture at the right time, and if everyone vibes, it’s official!

TA: No, not that I know of, just rip it up and be kind.

CW: Be Chill Bud.

Highlights? Low Points?

GT: Some of the highlights for me have been watching everyone really come into their own, to really define their styles and interests over the years, see more of the world and grow as human beings. Scratching my head trying to think of low points.... tough one, maybe all the time behind a computer editing videos when I could be out jiving with the crew??

TA: A highlight for me would be when we went camping and shredding in Nevada while filming for Aurora Boardealis, it was so nice, peaceful, and quiet out there….and we rode some real nice powder. Lowlight–hard to say…not too many low moments with the crew.

Tucker Andrews showing some pride in his adopted home. Gray Thompson photo.

CW: The camping missions have definitely been some of the best times together for sure. Sometimes you have to go down down down, so you can go back up up up. Enjoy the whole ride, ya know?

How often do you all ride together and when you all go out do you typically have specific missions or goals in mind?

GT: We ride together all the time, whether it’s chair laps at Alpine/Squaw or splitboard outings–the group chat of “where we rippin’ tomorrow” is always active. It’s kind of always been the WW motto to go with the flow- minimal serious objectives other than to rally somewhere where the snow might be decent, and see what we find!

TA: The year we filmed the full movie Aurora Boardealis I think Gray clocked in some 25-30 days in a row of going out and shooting in January/ February that year…. it kind of felt non-stop until June. But it was awesome.

CW: One goal always, be safe and enjoy!

How has social media and filming played a role with this crew? Filming?

GT: You could say that filming had everything to do with the crew initially, that’s how WW started. Social media didn’t really take off until after things were already happening with the crew so it was never as crucial or as much of a component- we’ve always looked at it as a supplement... we always go out to have a good time, and part of that good time is to document it and make films!

TA:Instagram plays a role but nothing too crazy and filming is just fun for everybody involved. Gray and Messi are just natural rippers and have a great eye when it comes to running the camera. They are constantly thinking up cool storylines or certain shots they have created in their mind that they want to see come to real life.

CW: Social media seems to be one of the biggest outlets for most things happening these days.

What about your home mountain and its role?

GT: Our home mountains of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows have really turned us into the riders we are today. You could say the terrain sculpted our styles and visions.

TA: I’m from Crested Butte. I’m so happy to have grown up there. Lots of old ski bums and happy outdoorsy people. It’s a pretty laid-back place. When they get a lot of snow it’s some of the best inbounds riding; steep and rocky though, it takes a lot of snow to make it happen.

The crew isn't just about surfing snow–they have been known to catch some air as well. GP Martin photography.

Park or Big Mountain?

GT: Big mountain.

TA: I like both! Depends on what kind of season it is... no snow then park is a blast, but if it’s snowing all the time then I like to splitboard and find smooth turns.

CW: I’m a freestyle/freeride kind of guy so I ride everything, the whole mountain.

Resort or Backcountry?

GT: Backcunch’

TA: Both again. If it’s sketch avy conditions then hit the lifts. Nice safe snowpack, go walkin and find the goods!

CW: Resort to backcountry, backcountry to resort

Most memorable season?

GT: They’re all so memorable! Probably the season we made Aurora Boardealis. Everyone was fired up, riding super well, and we ticked off some amazing trips and terrain in our backyard!

TA: I think every spring I go into summer work mode thinking “that was the best season ever,” so it’s hard to say.

CW: Filming for Aurora Boardealis was an all-time season that I will always remember! Every season has had so many memories it’s hard to say. I’m thankful for all of the good times!

Does the crew travel?

GT: We’ve all been traveling more and more over the last two years. Kind of got the travel bug. We’ve committed a lot of time to our home, but now we want to see more of this beautiful world. Japan, Europe and India are at the top of my list for best spots!

TA: Ya, the crew chases snow a lot. For me I think some of my favorite places that I’ve been are Mt. Baker–place is straight up magic. Whitefish, Montana, reminds me of bome but the resort and town are so fun, and I’ve dabbled with BC but literally know nothing and want to get up there more in the future….

CW: As much as we all can afford to do, we are all wandering wonderers.

Goals for winter 2018……

GT: Learn more about the mountains, be more conscious of our impacts, and keep contributing to global happiness.

A shaka a day keeps the doctor away. Gray Thompson photo.

TA: Snowboard a lot, meet new friends, ride powder, eat good food, drink tasty beer, hang out with my girlfriend Becca and our dog Baker, see some new sights and camp out in our new pop up camper!

CW: Enjoy the snow while we have it and try to create some more memories from these moments.

Anything on the docket for the crew in the next few seasons?

GT: We’ll always be doing what feels right and telling the stories that we feel are important, the rest is a surprise.

TA: I sure hope so! Anyone seen Gray? If you see him tell him I’m trying to rip a few laps with him…

CW: New Warp Wave Movie coming to a theater near you when the time is right...

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