November 21, 2017 North Pole, Alaska — On March 30, the 11th annual Tailgate Alaska will commence in the heart of Thompson Pass, Alaska, where snowboarders and skiers from around the world gather in Alaska’s dreamworld of snow and peaks. A lot of things will be the same this year as in the past, but some things will be different. Including new leadership. Mark Sullivan, who created and ran Tailgate Alaska for the past ten years, is handing over the responsibility of sharing Thompson Pass to me, Dustin H. James, to continue the movement that transforms the Alaska scene with each passing year.

People have been calling Tailgate Alaska the “Burning Man of the North” for years, but of course we are an event about snowboarding and skiing and our focus is different than Burning Man’s.

Although we do embrace the creativity, expression, camaraderie, brotherhood, and life changing experiences that a unique environment, such as Burning Man, or Tailgate Alaska, provides. At Tailgate Alaska the art is in you—the snowboarder, the skier—and these mountains are your canvas.

After 10 years, Tailgate Alaska sure has made its mark. Not only on those mountains, but on the day to day lives of those who have ridden here.

Tailgate started in 2008, after Sullivan sold Snowboard Magazine. The event was small, only fifteen people that first year. There were a few recreational riders, but most of the attendees were professional athletes. This is where the power lied in those days—with the heli guides, sponsored athletes, and uber rich who were feasting on the bounty of the Chugach each year. Then Tailgate Alaska happened, among technological developments for access, and, for the first time recreational riders, of a variety of skills and financial levels, began to come in droves.

The third year was the catalyst. That was the first year of the contest. It was 2010. Tailgate brought back King of the Hill, an epic freeride event from the 90s. Some really big names decided to show up for it. Travis Rice, Mike Basich, Scotty Lago, Mark Landvik, and Shawn Farmer. But it wasn’t Travis Rice’s winning run, where he stomped a gigantic 720 off a natural windlip above exposure, that would change Thompson Pass forever. For Travis, this was another trophy and couple hundred high fives to add to his collection. It wasn’t even Mark Landvik’s arm wrestling victory over Shawn Farmer for 6th place that would change Thompson Pass. Nope. It was Nico Demetrio, a chubby Chilean who now lives in WashingtonState who also competed. For Nico, this was a transformative moment on open display. Not only was he riding in Alaska, he was doing it alongside Travis Rice, riding off the very same peak. For Nico, that moment captured the awe and wonder of living. Because anyone who loves riding can experience snowboarding, and perhaps life itself, at its absolute zenith here.

Along with the groundbreaking riding we have also witnessed a rise in creativity, the likes of which no one could have foreseen. The Gypsy Crew, with their pop-up cabins, have become the true artists on Thompson Pass. Their door is always open to the fellow snow traveler. One year they created a 20 person sauna in a snow cave. The Eagle’s Nest was a highlight of 2016, a remote basecamp atop Demolition Hill that served as a happy hour stop-in where you could gaze out across the entire corridor of Thompson Pass, lighting off fireworks over the tailgate party. And who could forget Camp One Love, a crew of locals that did it all across the street. The craziest parties, the best snow caves, and the most technical terrain parks were the mark left by One Love.

While the apres scene has been an undeniable good time, the real excitement has been the mountains and unlimited powder. Exploration has taken on a whole new meaning. Riding in Thompson Pass used to be all about the road corridor, not anymore. People from around the world are learning to lead their own glacial explorations, and they’re doing it by foot, skin, sled, plane and helicopter.

Over the past ten years, snowmobiles have undergone a radical transformation in their design, allowing the average skier and snowboarder to reach locations once reserved only for helicopters. And then there’s Zack with Tok Air Service, a homegrown Alaskan bush pilot who parks his plane at Tailgate giving affordable access to glaciers overhead. Zack has created a spectacular way for splitboarders and skinners to access the infinite terrain that spans hundreds of square miles.

What does all this boil down to? There are more access options available to the regular person than ever before. We are just beginning to peel back the layers of the Chugach mountains and what they can offer for the recreational snowboarder and skier. Indeed, available first descents out there may number in the millions.

For the past decade, mainstream progression has been defined by filling the tops of podiums with taurine infused athletes, adding one 180 after another, and publishing stories about professionals on dream trips that most people will never come to experience. As these riders continue to push the limits of what is possible on snow, the regular rider has faced more and more disconnection from their sources of inspiration.

Meanwhile, at Tailgate Alaska, regular recreational snowboarders and skiers define progression in a way that is personal and can continue for decades after graduating from resorts to the backcountry.

So, what’s gonna happen over the next ten years in Thompson Pass? I couldn’t tell you because it’s not up to me to decide. I’m just here to be a sherpa—making it easier for you to have the same experiences that Jeremy Jones or Sage Cattabriga-Alosa have become famous for. The ultimate goal of Tailgate Alaska is not to be an event where the regular person comes to hang around the professionals. The goal is to have an event where the professionals come to get back in touch with the soul of our sport. John Jackson gets it.

And if you’re wondering if you’re ready for Alaska, then you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The answer is a resounding yes, unless you hate powder, because there are no groomers. But remember, if you want to have someone hold your hand through the experience, then your best bet is to book a week at a heli lodge. I have the phone numbers, just don’t forget the checkbook. If you want to do Alaska for yourself, then boy do we have a parking lot full of dedicated, like-minded riders waiting for you.

Discover life without limits for yourself, March 30 – April 8, 2018, in the heart of Thompson Pass.


— Dustin H. James

Shoot the Moon: Tailgate Alaska 2016 Wraps Up


Valdez, Alaska – April 27, 2016 – Tailgate Alaska wrapped up the now legendary ninth annual event on Thompson Pass on April tenth, making it the longest running, purely wintersports event in Alaska.

Alaska is the dream of snowboarders from around the world and for nine years, Tailgate Alaska has helped make the trip safe, affordable and unforgettable.


According to Olympian Tailgater Julia Dujmovits, “The first thing I decided when I won the gold medal was to come to Alaska… Tailgate has been awesome. This is just amazing.”

With zero approach access to 1.6 million acres of terrain, there are literally hundreds of glaciers and hundreds of thousands of peaks surrounding the Thompson Pass basecamp. For ten days, Tailgate Alaska puts riders in the heart of Mother Nature’s greatest snowboard park. It’s hard to even comprehend the magnitude of the Chugach Mountains – and when it went blue, teams of backcountry riders from 16 countries, explored and challenged themselves with snowboarding’s ultimate rubix cube.


Alaskan patience is an acquired skill, and waiting out the weather is a mandatory part of every trip. Tailgate Alaska fills these times with daily classes taught by the Alaska Avalanche Information Center, events like the Wizard Stick Slalom, Frankenbanken Big Air and Polaris Snowmobile’s Riding Clinic.

At night, Tailgater’s celebrated with savage parties, bonfires, Man Games After Dark, and live music including a northern lights, bonfire performance by Justin Boots and two floor breaking shows by The Shoot Dangs that went until the morning hours.


According to pro rider John Jackson, “The Shoot Dangs were great. We got their CD and are listening to it every morning. That party was crazy.”

Ultimately, Tailgate Alaska is about creating unique and pinnacle mountain experiences through mentorship and brotherhood for those that covet the ultimate mountains and snow conditions that Valdez, Alaska offers.

Participants agree. Five time Tailgater Jimmy Laghezza said, “I had the single best day ever this year. I drove a snowmobile to the top of one of these peaks for the first time and went inside a glacier. It was terrifying. It was amazing. I’ll never forget it.”


As spring dawns on Valdez, Alaska, the Tailgate Family returned to all points on the globe, from Australia to Austria, and Hong Kong to Costa Rica, fulfilled with new mountain experiences, friendships and knowledge, and a deep desire to return next year, because even after years of riding and exploring these mountains, you still have everything to learn.

For more information, check out




Is it Too Deep for Tailgate Alaska?


Valdez, Alaska – March 23, 2016 – Tailgate Alaska is excited to kick off our 9th annual event on Thompson Pass April first ( April 1 – 10, 2016.) This year has seen a record snowfall in Alaska. This year is not like the others.

According to event Tailgate Alaska founder Mark Sullivan, “Just in the past week we have had between four and six feet of snow. And we are due for another huge storm – seven more days of snow – clearing the day Tailgate starts. If you have dreamed of going to Alaska – this year is off the charts.”

It will certainly be a season to remember in Alaska. Already both Scotty Lago and Travis Rice have spent considerable time in the Tailgate Alaska arena, filming for upcoming projects on the Thompson Pass corridor. This year everything is filled in more – and new lines and possibilities abound. Photographer Clyde Hewitt summed it up, “This isn’t blower, it’s choker.”

“Our goal is to share the best mountains and snow conditions in the world, and this year will not disappoint.” said Sullivan.

Right now, we have a stable snowpack – and it is deep. The Tailgate Alaska lot has huge snowbanks – and has required constant plowing and digging to keep open. This year, Alaska is different.

“Being on Thompson pass is the ultimate dream come true. I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be right now. If you dream about big mountain riding, this is the place to make it real. We are walking in the footsteps of giants.” According to Russel Corn, upcoming freerider from Colorado.

There are still some tickets available for this year’s Tailgate Alaska. With free snow safety classes, an on-site rescue team, daily entertainment, and amenities to make the trip comfortable, Tailgate Alaska makes the trip affordable and safe.Tailgate Alaska kicks off on April first. Get ready. It is deep. Bring an extra shovel and snorkel. And leave your war chest of excuses at home.

For more information, check out
Tickets are available at

Tailgate Alaska Tickets Are on Sale


Valdez, Alaska – October 16, 2015 – Tailgate Alaska is excited to announce announce our 9th Annual Tailgate Alaska World Freeride Festival. This year’s festival will start on April 1 and go until April 10th – giving riders direct access to terrain around Valdez, Alaska, made famous in TGR and Standard films.

According to event founder Mark Sullivan, “Over the past nine years, we have seen the event change lives and educate people on responsible backcountry riding. The event provides the kind of experience once reserved for elite pros: simply, the mountains and conditions do not compare to resorts, or other backcountry experiences in the lower 48, Europe, Asia and South America. Alaska is the pinnacle and Tailgate Alaska makes it affordable, fun and safe for dedicated riders from around the world.”

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center will return to Tailgate Alaska 2016 to give daily snow safety classes, as well as provide a rescue team, making the event the safest way to explore the mountains around Valdez, Alaska. This year’s event will also feature daily events, like the signature Man Games, the Valdez Banked Slalom, campsite contest, dual slalom snowmobile race and more. There is always something happening at Tailgate Alaska.

With each passing year the event has grown and refined, but one thing has remained consistent: virtually every participant has had the best runs of their lives at the event. Sullivan adds, “For some, it is the trip of a lifetime. For the rest, it becomes an annual pilgrimage to ride the best the world has to offer.”

Tickets to the annual event go on sale today, October 16 at noon MST.

For more information, check out

Tailgate Alaska 2015 In Short

Valdez, Alaska – May 11 , 2015.– Tailgate Alaska 2015 wrapped up on Thompson
Pass, completing the eight annual edition of the now legendary big mountain festival.
The legend of Thompson Pass riding isnʼt just hype, according to snowboarding legend
Jamie Lynn who rode in the area around basecamp, “Itʼs like taking 100 powder days
and combining them into one run.” Bryan Iguchi agreed, “I had the best turns of my life

Riders from 16 countries descended on Valdez, Alaska on April 3rd for the ten day long
event – and were greeted by the best snow conditions Alaska has seen in recent
memory – and in the history of the event. In addition to direct access to the peaks that
tower over basecamp, Tailgate Alaska had free daily snow science classes, speakers, a
FM radio station (The Weagle 90.7 FM), an 8 man rescue team, on site medics, special
parties and events.

According to event founder, Mark Sullivan, “ This year marked a new high point for the
event in terms of snow conditions and access to snow safety education. On blue days,
riders went out in 2-6′ of fresh snow and on down days they were treated to multiple
daily classes, ensuring all participants went home having ridden the best peaks and
snow conditions of their lives – but also a little bit smarter on how to responsibly access
the backcountry.”

This year, Tailgate Alaska introduced a number of new events during the ten day
festival. These included the Valdez Banked Slalom race, Knight Rider Racks Tandem
Slalom Snowmobile race, a Wizard Stick Slalom, Alaska Vs. Canada Tandem
Snowmobile race and Goal Zero and Traeger Grill Campsite Showdown.

These events will be documented in future episodes of the In Short video series.
Tailgate Alaska was formed in 2008 by Mark Sullivan (founder of SNOWBOARD magazine, and former
editor of Snowboarder Magazine.) Held annually on Thompson Pass (Valdez, AK) at the bush pilot
airstrip. Tailgate Alaska is brought to you by Valdez, Alaska, Never Summer Industries, Goal Zero, Spark
R&D, Homeschool Snowboarding, Unity Snowboards, Great Alaskan Holidays, Black Ops Valdez,

Tailgate Alaska Wraps up BEST. SEASON. EVER.

Valdez, Alaska — April 10, 2013 – Flow Tailgate Alaska wrapped up on Thompson Pass. Returning for its sixth annual festival (held March 29-April 7, 2013), Flow Tailgate Alaska: World Freeride Festival brought together professional athletes, media, industry and recreational riders for the seasons largest backcountry gathering. This year was larger than ever, bringing together 500 participants from as far away as Russia, Australia and Chile — 14 countries in all.

Flow Tailgate Alaska continues to forge a new event model, mixing backcountry education, entertainment and direct access to world class terrain. According to event founder Mark Sullivan, “This year was our most successful event ever. We had more people, great weather, deep snow an amazing group of people — and it never got tracked out.”

Most participants agree. According to Tailgater Jon Miller, “I had the best day of my life. Two days in a row.” It’s these kinds of experiences that set Flow Tailgate Alaska apart from all other wintersports events.

According to snow safety director Sean Wisner, “Everyone at Flow Tailgate Alaska participates. It is not like other events where people stand around and watch. Here it is about doing it for yourself — and learning something new about riding in the backcountry safely.”

Flow Tailgate Alaska also played host to the fourth annual Flow World Freeriding Championships, which test riders skills in the ultimate proving grounds — Alaska’s Chugach range.

The best part is, YOU are invited to come and participate (at least in 2014) – Flow Tailgate Alaska will return to Thompson Pass in 2014 for another epic season of introducing new riders to Alaska and giving veterans easy access to the world’s best terrain and snow conditions.

For more information, check out

How to Get to Alaska

My main source of information, Instagram, has led me to believe everyone who’s anyone is headed to, or in, Alaska right now. For the majority of Yobeat readership, this may not sound that exciting as the park boxes are limited, but we’re pretty sure spring in Alaska is the coolest, especially since it’s the one of only places in America that really got snow this year. So for those of you interested in some man shit and an extended season, we say, get your ass to AK! Here are some ideas for how to get there. Please note: we’ve done no actual research and are simply making assumptions based on instagram.

The Laura Hadar Approach

Follow her: @hadeslife

Mama Hades is super in touch with nature and has opted to take a ferry to Alaska. Apparently, renting a sleeping cabin was either too expensive or too boring, so instead, she’s spending the multi day ride in a tent. You really can’t beat the view.

The Andrew Burns Approach

Follow Burnsy: @burnshimself

Burnsy lives in a moving house, which means, he probably just drove it up there.* If your house moves, we would recommend this method in spite of sky high gas prices. That way, you can make fun of all the sissies who took airplanes up there, and you have a mode of transportation for negotiating the vast Alaskan wilderness as well as a place to stay.

* Upon further inspection we’ve determined Burns actually took the ferry too. Whatever.

The ThinkThank Approach

follow the fun: @think_thank

Despite being known for their next level jibbing, many members of the ThinkThank crew are actually Alaska bred. We have to assume they’re taking the good old fashioned approach: getting their parents (or in this case sponsors) to buy them a plane ticket. Be sure to bring your own cones and other props, you never know what will be available in the final frontier.

The Tailgate AK Approach

@Shayboarder is at Tailgate AK. Are you?

If solitude and loneliness aren’t your bag, then maybe AK isn’t for you. Or maybe you need to get your ass up there for Tailgate AK next week. That way, if the snowboarding is too scary, you can hang out and drink instead.

The A-Lister Approach

@lucasdebari sends it in Haines. Photo by @ejackshreds

When you’re a member of the 1% and your big time sponsor pays for everything, first class is the only way to go. Once you get there, it’s more heli rides and maybe a day or two slumming it on your sled. And of course, get a top photog and videog to cature all the action!

Or if all of these ways sound too hard or out of reach, you can always just live vicariously through instragram.

Go Tailgating in Alaska

Flow Tailgate Alaska is excited to announce the launch of our 2012 website. It includes detailed information on Flow Tailgate Alaska, Flow Tailgate BC and Flow World Freeriding Championships.

The front page of the website features the full length, Tailgate Alaska the Movie, produced in 2010 about the event, the movie shows what it is like to attend, access the mountains and compete in Alaska. It features Mike Basich, Aaron Robinson, Travis Rice, Scotty Lago, Travis Parker and many more. Although the event has nearly doubled in size since the movie was made, it serves as a good overview of what you can expect at Flow Tailgate Alaska.

Additional features have been added, like the event countdown timer with live images from Revelstoke and Valdez respectively. In the news section, there are a number of downloadable Wallpapers on massive Alaskan runs in a number of screen sizes, as well as links to coverage of events from past years. In addition, there is an interactive trail map with images of many peaks that surround base camp. The about page breaks down the event staff and gives easy access to them with Facebook integration.

Tickets for all three events have also gone on sale at the newly launched World Freeride Festival Store (, which serves as the ticketing hub for all 2012 events. Tickets have been moving briskly for Flow Tailgate BC which is expected to fill its 150 capacity quickly. Flow Tailgate Alaska also plays host to the Flow World Freeride Championships, with a $10,000 pay out for the champion and running from April 1-12, 2012. Flow Tailgate BC will run from March 8-12, 2012. Tickets will be available shortly for both events, with tickets limited to 150 for the inaugural Flow Tailgate BC.

For more information, check out

Rome’s Very-Difficult-to-Win Free Trip to Alaska

All all-expenses paid trip to Alaska is a pretty sweet prize. We’d take it for sure. Unfortunately, we don’t work at a shop, which really cuts down our odds. Then the fact that being influential bloggers we don’t really “buy” snowboards kind of negates our chances entirely. But if you DO work at a shop, or you ARE buying a Rome Snowboard this season, you could win! So good luck, we probably weren’t eligible anyway.

PS. Congrats on the new job Mark. Nice cross-branding promotion!

Rome SDS is proud to announce Ticket To Alaska, your chance to win the trip of a lifetime to snowboarding’s ultimate venue: the Chugach Mountains in Alaska.  If you have ever watched an Absinthe or Standard movie, you have seen it: big, above-treeline ramps with sheets of snow racing down the mountain next to miniscule riders. While this is one thing that sets Valdez apart from its peers–the natural terrain–it is the windlips, halfpipes, ramps, and cornices everywhere that make it the best place on the planet to ride. Cover everything with 700” of snow each season and you have something that almost defies description.

Tailgate Alaska The World Freeride Festival (March 25 — April 10, 2011) gathers riders in the heart of it all, on Valdez’s legendary and historic Thompson Pass, to celebrate the best powder any of us have ridden. Through Rome’s Ticket To Alaska contest, four lucky riders will win expense-paid trips to the Tailgate Alaska to shred the world’s best terrain and hang with the best riders in the world.

If you work at a Rome dealer, there are three ways to win:

-    Be the Number One Rome salesman out of the participating Rome dealers. If you think you have real, big-time game, then riding AK is where you need to go.
-    Be the one lucky winner from the “top salespeople drawing”.  We will collect all the names of the top Rome salespeople from the participating shops (one from each shop), and then we’ll randomly pick a winner from those names.
-    Sell the “Golden Ticket” board.  The “Golden Ticket” board is one that Rome will select out of the boards shipped to participating retailers between 8/1/2010 and 1/30/2010.  Whoever sells this board goes to Alaska.

If you don’t work at a Rome dealer, there is one way to win: buy “The Golden Ticket”.

Let’s say that you would love a free trip to Alaska to go riding with the likes of Lukas Debari, but you don’t work at a Rome snowboard shop. No problem. Rome has picked one board–it was or will be shipped to a snowboard shop (near you)–and the person who buys that Rome board will be going to AK with the guy who sold it to him (see above).  Cute, huh?

If all of this seems confusing, it’s not. If AK is the pinnacle, then we are going. And if we are going, we want to take you with us. As one of four winners of Ticket To Alaska, you will be treated to airfare, a week’s worth of food, lodging, a new 164 Notch Swallowtail for pow shredding, a Blitz backpack and snowmobile access powder riding in the Chugach.

Ticket To Alaska is your opportunity for the trip of a lifetime.

So if you want a chance to shred Alaska with Rome, the first step is to make sure your local Rome dealer is participating.  Any questions on how your Rome shop can participate, contact your local Rome rep or Rome directly at [email protected] and check out to see what is in store.

Must be 18 or over to participate.

For more news and Rome SDS happenings keep an eye on, and