Surfer magazine photographer Chris Burkard traveled to Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands to shoot surfers braving the cold Alaska water. His images capture the surreal landscape of a small but grand part of the Aleutian chain.
Umnak is the third largest Aleutian island, with only 40 residents and the only field of geysers in Alaska. According to Burkard, “With no roads to the ocean we relied on ATVs to travel the distance from the village to the coast. As we crested the final hill we were treated not only with a view of the distant snow-covered volcano, but a point with waves peeling down its right side. It was a moment I had hoped for but didn't expect to see -- clean waves and a clear day in a place known as the 'cradle of storms.' ”
“To be honest, I would bet that a majority of the year this place is not that photogenic and plagued with bad weather and storms, but when the conditions come together just right, it is nature's masterpiece. The remoteness of the places I travel in Alaska often leave me searching with a boat or by mix of planes, cars, and ATVs. It was actually pretty surreal to trek a few hours through some of the most untouched nature I've seen only to stumble upon waves. Whenever you are in a place with such a remote nature, every angle and spot you shoot looks like another planet.
"Part of why I love traveling to these remote destinations is it puts nature as the star of the images and the surfers as just small objects within the beauty that surrounds them. The fact that the Aleutians seem to only produce perfect waves helps add some photogenic qualities to the images.”