Photographer Chris Burkard chartered a Soviet military chopper and four-wheel-drive carrier truck, gathered six of his toughest friends, and set off on a two-week exploration of the remote, wild, 780-mile-long Russian peninsula. Read our interview with him about the trip.
Midway into the session Keith Malloy split Cyrus's alaia in half. Standing on the beach he watched Dane pump through a perfectly lit peak. Needless to say, he immediately ditched the now piece of scrap wood for another surf craft.
A proper toast
We got a proper Russian greeting at the first beach. There were a bunch of fishermen on the shores. They pulled out the vodka and offered the crew shots. It seemed to fit the Russian stereotype all to well.
A typical beach day in Kamchatka. We would scan up and down the beach on the rooftop of the truck and then drive to the best sandbar. After we found a good spot, we would usually post up all day and go to and from the truck for food, or a new board to ride.
From the air
Our ride in the heli was something I will never forget. Viewing Kamchatka from the air really allowed us to see how vast the wilderness was. We saw volcanoes, mountains stacked to the horizon, and the ocean meeting the rivers.
The only footprints on the beach were from us, going in and out of the water. Occasionally, though, we would find some from animals much larger than us, like these, from a grizzly.
Trading a sunset surf for a sunset fish, Cyrus Sutton casts away. On the days it was flat we would spend a lot of time fishing the rivers that led into the ocean.
One of the most insane sunsets I have ever witnessed. The crew had to get on top our truck and watch as the clouds above the distant volcanoes lit up the sky.
I’d seen a lot of photos of the place and they’re beautiful, but I wanted to show a different side of it. I guess how paintable the ocean is there.
Five to 10 seconds before that photograph was taken, the little girl was shooting.
I knew so little about this place, and I knew so little about what our experience was going to be like, that I wanted our experience to be left open. So, for me it was just about kind of letting things unfold, letting things happen organically.
People always ask me, How do you pick your crew? And as lame as it sounds, I need people who have got my back no matter what, who are safe to travel with, and who can endure wild conditions.
It's kind of funny because I kind of get more excited shooting early in the morning and late in the evening. I’d rather sleep during the day.
On the road
The toughest part of the trip was logistics. You would have something spotted out and it would take longer to drive there than you thought. You would estimate something would take six hours of driving, and it took longer. You’d have to go through trees, and rivers, and the gnarliest four-wheel drive tracks that I’ve ever seen.
There was so much trash washing up on the beach from Japan, that Keith Malloy just grabbed a tray and went bodysurfing. That sums it up. The trip was so cool because it was really unique to go somewhere where everyone could ride all kinds of crafts, and it just kind of all worked.