gorge-windsurfing

The Columbia River Gorge has some of the finest windsurfing in the world. Photos by Grant Myrdal

If you spend much time on Mount Hood you've probably run into Grant Myrdal at some point, and chances are pretty good that he's got a photo of you somewhere in his archives. A few years ago Grant expanded his action photography gig into the Columbia River Gorge, largely because so many of his friends and customers who spend their winters shredding Hood also spend their summers shredding the Gorge.

The windsurfing scene on the Columbia River in and around Hood River was pioneered three decades ago by a bunch of hard-core riders who fell in love with the way the prevailing westerlies stack up in the river there in summer time, creating huge waves perfectly designed for launching. The former timber town quickly became a magnet for windsurfers, and innovation flourished, on the river and in town. Sail and gear designers set up shop, the gear got better and better, and so did the riders.

John Akagi, one of the original Gorge Pioneers

These days the wind scene in the Gorge extends at least 100 miles, from Troutdale out to Arlington by way of the Hatchery and the Wall, a water wonderland for everyone from newcomers to top pros out on the water. Hard-core Mount Hood riders like John Loseth, Jeff Albright, Temira Lital, Rick Streidan, Kyle Skutch are all in the mix, along with many others. The rise of kiteboarding and stand up padding add to a lively subculture of wind fanatics both local and transient, the type of folks who can tell you exactly how hard it is blowing and will be blowing, and exactly when it's gonna get really good.

Wind Forecasting Guru Temira Lital

It all adds up to quite the show for Grant, a former competitive surfer who took up snowboarding when he first moved from South Africa to the US by way of Utah. He drives from his horse farm in Bend out to the river, sets up on the beach in the nukin' wind, plants his flag with great care so the wind won't send it out in the the river, and starts shooting. It's a dramatic landscape filled with all sorts of variations of light, angles and dynamic images, and when you see his photos you can understand why he keeps coming back for more - and why the ever-increasing crews of Gorge wind-hounds keep coming back as well.

John Akagi goes big.

You can scroll through all of Grant Myrdal's 2016 wind photos from the Gorge here.