The glacial swell approaches at a non-glacial pace and Mick and Mason pick their lineup like Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. They have no clue. They’ve never surfed here before, nobody has, so they’re just guessing. But they have their shortboards on top of SUPs, hoping the vessel’s extra paddle power will make up for any lineup miscalculation.
It doesn’t. Sitting too far down the sandbar, they watch helplessly as a chest-high left reels perfectly down the top of the point.
“No, no, no!” Mason yells as he sprint paddles toward the wave. Mick concedes defeat and watches it peel, mouth agape. While he missed the biggest, best wave, Mason’s tenacity gets him to the tail end of the set’s last wave. He dismounts the SUP, grabs his shortboard and jumps into the wave. He has time for one pump and a hurried lipper before the wave dies.
“Coolest 1-footer I’ve caught in my life,” he says, simultaneously ecstatic and dissatisfied. He knows the potential of this place. And for a guy who loves novelty waves, this is the Holy Grail. “We gotta get ready for the next one.”
The next one comes, a combo swell powered by simultaneous calvings on each end of the glacier. Mick chases the right up the beach, but the ice is too dense for him to reach it. Mason paddles straight out and stands atop a small ‘berg and when the wave comes, he acid drops into it backwards, clipping an ice cube on the landing and busting his middle fin out. “Next one,” he says.
There are false alarms. Huge calvings occur and they run to the shore to meet a wave that’s not there, either because the chunk didn’t fall directly into water or a small peninsula blocks the swell. It’s got the addictive uncertainty that comes with surfing in our everyday lives, but they’re learning it on the fly, surrounded by glaciers and icebergs, laughing their heads off at the absurdity of it all. On the other side of the world, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro just went on hold.
A long-period east swell gives them their final shot at the glacier wave. Mick has abandoned all hope of catching a wave on a shortboard, and paddles through the ice on a finless SUP. Mason, once again, summits an iceberg. When the first wave comes he seamlessly transfers from the iceberg, onto the SUP, and then onto his shortboard before olleying over an ice block. He rolls up onto the beach in a pile of ice and laughter. “The thrill is back!” he says, turning around in time to see Mick catch the next wave and ride it up onto the beach. Mason is there to greet him with a celebratory hug.
“That’s it,” Mick says, elated but exhausted. “We did it. We’re done.”
The east swell brought in even more ice to the area and so yes, they are done, and paddle back to the boat battered from countless collisions with the ice. Still, Mason is almost tortured. He wants more. “I feel like this is the new Search,” he says. “This was just a little taste. I wanna come back and just surf the glacier.”
As they raise the anchor and begin their return toward to civilization, Mick watches the glacier snake its way from the bay and disappear into the mountains. In a thousand years, the last piece of ice visible in the distance will fall into this water and make a perfect wave — he and Mason will be long gone. Contests? They seem pretty silly right about now. “This place makes you feel so insignificant,” he says, taking a sip of his beer. “It’s good. You feel at peace.”