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Interview: Drexnefex–the shredder’s weatherman, creator of NW surf, snowboarding, and life

Washington may not boast the glamorous ski towns that other western states flaunt, nor the surf spots from the stories of lore, but that just gives the core community all the more reason to bond tightly and share the stoke. Chairlift chats or pub stops back from the coast can reveal stories about fellow riders ripping about this playground we share. And here, that can still mean industry folk, media, pros and bros. This season, I happened upon a lift with the creator of Drexnefex—as he goes by on his site—started NWBroWeather as a way to check all the relevant daily weather reports necessary to Washington shredders in one spot. But the site has become more than a gallery for weather cams and buoys. It’s a popular forum for the local snow/surf community to gather, rant, rave, talk smack and simply share the passion that binds us all, regardless of our physical locales in the NW. Here’s Drex’s story. Take a minute to stop and listen to a fellow’s tale.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?

Seattle is homebase now. But I grew up in Everett.

What did you get into first? Surfing or snowboarding?

Skateboarding beget snowboarding. Snowboarding beget surfing. I was too poor to snowboard when I was younger. I used to take my old skate decks and staple-gun bike inner tubes to the top, slip my feet in and “snowboard” on the local hills when we got snow. One year, I got a Black Snow from Target. We didn’t get any snow that winter so we just rode the thing down big grassy hills when it rained. I didn’t start “real” shredding till I got to college and could use my student loan money to buy gear and get a job at Ski Acres for a seasons pass.

Where do you ride now?

I ride Snoqualmie Pass mostly, but get around a bit. I’ve been getting more hyped on Stevens Pass lately, but Alpental will always be the place I’d want to be on a mid-week pow day. Top-to-bottom, Upper International to Ropeline is my favorite run–no unstrappin’ and hikin’.  Just charging, jumping, slashing and stoke. I’ve ridden quite a few places but Alpental definitely holds it down. It’s got some of the most gnarly steep terrain in the universe. There are jumps everywhere. When the pow is on, it’s like a powder park. There’s a ba-jillion lines—I keep finding new ones.

And surfing? When did you pick that up?

I always knew I’d surf. I went to Westport the first couple times with borrowed gear. I got my ass handed to me trying to paddle out but was completely hooked. I got my own gear shortly after. At first I remember paddling forever just trying to get outside, then finally making it, catching some junky wave in and being right back at paddling my ass off for an hour. It was a good two years of going almost every weekend before I was able to legitimately catch waves. Probably another two years before I was able to ride backhanded. Learning to surf in the Northwest is hard. The waves are fickle, the weather is shitty, the water is cold, it’s expensive at $3/gallon, and there are no girls on the beach.

What’s the surf scene in the NW ?

From the point of view of an avid weekend warrior, I think surfing in WA is still in its infancy. There’s a mix of core people, and then those who are still figuring it out. Those hold the majority. Even though I started surfing around 2001 or 2002 I’m still figuring it out—that’s one of the things that appeals to me. Surfing has blown up in Washington since then. When I started, summer weekends at Westport had a half-full parking lot. Now the lot fills up with cars parked down the road. As a result, the surf is full of beginners, which is a whole issue in itself. There’s a group of guys who’ve been surfing in Washington for a long time—locals. You will bump into them if you surf here.

Where have surfing and snowboarding taken you?

Surfing–I’ve been to Mexico a few times; Costa a few times; and Hawaii a few times. Snow—sheesh, all over, except Jackson. Gnarliest experience was definitely paddling out at Pipe, March 2008.  Waves were 8-10 [feet] Hawaiian–double overhead. The reef is really shallow and the water is crystal clear. You can see plain as day below you. It’s scary as shit. I shouldn’t have paddled out. I didn’t know how the hell I was going to get back in.  A couple of my friends paddled out after I did. I felt better knowing at least a couple bros were going to die with me.

Glad you’re still with us. So tell us about NWBroWeather. How did the site come about? You built it yourself?

Built the thing myself. I have no formal experience with web-anything—all self-taught; any real web designer/developer could tell you that. Surfing and snowboarding are completely weather-dependent. Initially, I set out to create a website that had all the info I needed for weather forecasting/current conditions on one page:  Snow forecast, winds, temps, swell direction, swell size, tides. I didn’t want a bunch of extra crap—just data. If you’re looking at the raw data from all the various sensors out there you can make your own conclusions.

You also write on your site. What are you scribing about?

We have so many amazing places around here: mountains and coast. I’m in constant awe of the things I see that I feel compelled to say something about it. Writing is another creative outlet for me. The challenge of putting together a clear, concise thought into a sentence is rewarding. I’m still practicing.

A lot of shit-talking goes down on NWBro. For real or for fun?

I know. I love it. Some is real, some is fake. All entertaining.

Do you have any plans for the future of the site? Anything you want it to become?

I’m planning on revamping the site—making the code more efficient and faster–something a web developer could puke out in five minutes but will take me weeks.  I’m always tweaking something on the site.

You went to Central Washington University. What did you go to school for?

Maps! [And] Espanol.

You’re smart, then?

Eh, more of a smart ass.  I like trivia night at bars though.

You started snowboarding in ’97. I was definitely still in California then. What was the scene like up here? How has it changed?

Let me just preload this answer with the fact that there were a lot of dudes riding way before me who’d probably give a completely different recount of shred back in ‘97. I caught the tail-end of the wide-stance, baggy-pants thing. People were still wearing Bat Wing mitts in the spring. A lot of Jamie Lynn Lib-Tech pro models; Soup Kitchen outerwear; Rodeo flips just came out; people were just starting to ride rails. There was a lot more hessian shreds back then, too: soul bros. Stank hippies posted up in Lot 3 at Alpental. That added some character for sure. Snowboard parks were non-existent around Washington, so snowboarding was still more of a freeride thing. We built jumps and wished we had a halfpipe.

Snowboarding is different in many ways from when I started. Probably the biggest thing is its mainstreamness. We’re not outcasts anymore. Aside from that, the gear is more expensive and brighter. A lot of kids wearing helmets. The park scene is huge. There are kids now who can annihilate rails and boxes but who can’t [free]ride for shit. But it comes down to fun, and I don’t think these goofy kids are having any less fun than I did when I was younger.

Krush [Kulesza] up at Snoqualmie has created a machine. He’s more or less singlehandedly put Snoqualmie Pass on the map. There’s a pre and post-Krush Washington snowboard scene. He’s been cultivating a core group of kids for a few years now. I’ve been lucky enough to watch a few come up and get some legit recognition. It’s really cool. The level kids are riding at these days is so far and above where kids were when I was younger.

During the winter you still surf. Which would get your love on day where both the mountains and the surf had the most epic conditions EVER, bro?

Surf. No question.

Goofy or regular?

I go both.

You have some issues with that?

Other people might.

Ever been caught in an avalanche or swam away from a fin?

I’ve never seen a shark up here in Washington but once at Ocean Shores I got the shit scared out of me by something really big in the water []. I got caught in a pretty bad avalanche one time and should have died. I’m still writing that one…look for that on NWBro.

In the scope of your life, what do surfing and snowboarding provide you?

They provide a lot for me. All of my good friends I have because of snowboarding and surfing. The relentless pursuit of perfection in both surf and snow provides a lifelong challenge and a goal. There’s something about watching the sunrise from a lineup, how powder sparkles after a fresh dump, or the shape of a barreling wave that is beautiful. Nature.

Who do you admire in life/surfing/snowboarding?

My friends.  Progression. There’s nothing like seeing one of your friends come up–whether it be locking in a backside snap, shooting davey jones, dropping a 50-foot cliff over a waterfall [], or something as simple as making it out to the lineup for the first time. It makes me feel warm inside.

Finally, from a veteran to the groms, words to the wise?

Be nice to everyone, work hard, do what you love and it’ll all come together in your 20s. Also, quit watching MTV—that shit’ll rot your brain.

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