In 2009 our dreams of surfing this particular remote break in Alaska were realized, several times actually. All told I think there was about seven attempts at getting there and maybe four successes. The spot is called Petrof Glacier because the beach we surf is nearby the glacier and it’s the easiest way to locate it on a map. Access is by a short bush plane ride through the Kenai Mountains that is really long on scenery. In the brief 15 minutes of flying we cross Kachemak Bay, pass several glaciers, countless mountain peaks, an ice field, more glaciers, glacier lakes, rivers, and then back to the ocean in the Gulf of Alaska and the much anticipated moment of . . will it be fogged in? . . . will there be a swell?
Three days ago we scrambled at first light after noting a building swell forecast for a couple days and hoping that the mountains would not be shrouded in clouds as they are 98% of the time in this season. We awoke to a hopeful sky. 45 minutes after the phones started ringing four of us were at the Homer Air office loading a Cessna 206 with our surfboards and survival gear. With some smart packing by the pilot we can easily fit four surfers, one surfboard each (less than 8ft) and some camping gear and food for the day. The camping gear is for the almost expected change in weather that would prevent the airplane returning for a pickup. So far we have never actually been ‘stranded’ though on a few particularly sweet occasions we found ourselves wishing it would happen.
Once over the mountains the suspense builds as we start getting glimpses of the ocean on the other side. Things were looking good this morning – the rocky reefs had white rings around them from an ocean surge. One pass over the surf break and we knew it was our lucky day. After one aborted landing near the break where we discovered some exciting bumps on the beach, we had a silky smooth touchdown about a mile back up the beach. With the winter darkness only allowing us four hours on the ground (or in the water) this time of year, it was a frantic show getting the plane unloaded, into our wetsuits and off running down the beach to the surf break.
We were pleasantly surprised to see that the winter storms had changed the layout of the break significantly for the better. The tidal slough drain / river shown in the above photo has moved it’s outlet down the beach a couple hundred yards which keeps us from having to fight the current during the ebbing tide. And in its wake it left a picture perfect sand bar that looks like it was hand carved for producing peeling rights.
When I edited the photos there was too many to fit in one nice post, and really, getting to this surf break at Petrof Glacier is half the adventure so I’ve split it up into two posts. The rest coming soon, your patience will be rewarded.