• January, 12 2021
  • PHOTOS BY Chris Burkard

Roark Surf Pilgrimage

Our trip to the Aleutians was part surf mission, part pilgrimage. Following the trail of Bob Kemp, a man who hiked and photographed his way through the islands, pioneering the inhospitable coastline.

Arc of Aleutia directors Ben Weiland and Chris Burkard had visited the islands before, but experience doesn’t guarantee success.

“Those trips left me with so many questions about what else could be out there,” Ben says. “I’d heard about waves from fishermen and boat captains, but it’s difficult and often dangerous to get anywhere.”

We ended up scoring!

The right slab was a fitting epitaph to the trip - elusive, with brief moments of treacherous perfection. “With exposed reef at beginning and end, there were as few options for entry as there were for exit,” Harrison says. “And with a swell that was perhaps a couple of feet too big, the slab epitomized our humbling Aleutian experience.”

Our team left the Aleutians with heads swirling with the romance of the islands’ potential, but for Chris Burkard, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“This trip wasn’t just about scoring surf, it’s about legend and how legend affects you,” he says. “One person’s legend has led us there, to chase waves, but also pay homage to his memory.”

"There’s nowhere else I’ve been in cold climates where I’ve thought, ‘That’s a wave that people would travel really far to surf.’ ”

Chris Burkard