NICE TO MEETCHA: Morgan Hebert

Hey there, nice to meetcha Morgan Hebert! We caught up with Morgan while he spends his first spring not slaying big lines all day every day in Alaska.

MORGAN HEBERT BIO

Morgan was born and raised in Alaska then lived in Vancouver BC for a year at 15, graduated early at 17, and has been chasing winter all over ever since. He spent a year in Colorado, about 6 full years in Tahoe, and now calls the greater PNW home base. In the summer he works as in the commercial fishing and construction industry to support his priority of riding over one hundred days a season. Which usually includes a hefty spring stint in Alaska for riding big mountain lines all spring long. He says, “I have been fully committed to the love of winter and snowboarding my whole life.”

SPONSORS: YES, Now, Intuition, Homeschool Outerwear, Drop mfg, Smith Optics, Crystal Mountain, Boarderline Legacy, and Aurora Project.

Morgan Hebert, not afraid of line commitment. Photo by Court Leve.

Q+A WITH Morgan Hebert

What was it like growing up in Alaska?

MH: Alaska was a great upbringing! I feel it really taught me the values of being outdoors and the passion to get after it. I grew up in a part of AK that was pretty flat and had long, cold dark winters with little snowfall. I think that made us have to want it more, and gave me a kind of appreciation for good snow and solid terrain to ride.

How was your love of snowboarding born?

MH: Once I strapped into a snowboard I was hooked for life. I think it was always a calling to be in the mountains and on the snow. My snowboarding back then was way more freestyle oriented and dedicated toward jump builds and jibbing because those were our options. We really had to have the drive to go work for everything growing up in Fairbanks. It is the furthest North city in Alaska, and we didn’t get much snow but it stays cold. We would build terrain park features out of haybales at our local ski area just to have good features, and lap day after day open to close. That was a real spark of inspiration in riding back then. Basically looking at it like we can do this and push our riding every day. So stoked! Of course, being in Alaska we were also within a few hours of being totally accessible to the amazing mountains all around us. That quickly developed to expanding skills to freeriding and the want to take tricks to natural features. It really fired us up to push our way into better terrain and the want to develop our freeride skills. At a young age seeing the OGs riding big mountains in the TB movies just blew us away. It seemed like a whole different world, and we were like wow those peaks are just beyond our backyard! It was fairly obtainable to get to these mountains, & our parents just kind of let us run with it. A 6-hour road trip would put you in Valdez or at Alyeska which are two places in the state that hold some of the best mountains in the world and an abundance of snowfall.

How old were you when you boarded your first “big AK line”?

MH: A few of my buddies and I would scrape together what savings we could every year to do an annual trip to Valdez in the spring. Trying to get out once or twice a season into some real mountains. We usually had just enough money to pile 4 or 5 of us into a minivan or Subaru, get down there, and tough it out for a few days of camping & shredding. This consisted of a combination of cheap meals, dirt bagging by use of a friend’s available trailer or roughing out a snow cave, and hiking a lot. All around we were pretty broke and just did it to fuel our stoke. Thompson Pass provided hikable roadside lines and kicker sessions were super doable. After getting down there most of us had saved just enough of a budget to ride a day in the heli too. We would wait out the right conditions and go all in! I think I was about 15 when I first stepped out of a bird onto a big mountain line. It changed my life. Southeast Alaska is now my 2nd home as I feel more and more drawn to the big mountain riding and community around there.

Steep and fast, just what Morgan Hebert ordered. Photo by Tsutomu Endo.

You bounced around CO, CA and WA, what took you there and holds you in the PNW?

MH: I graduated high school early at 17 after a little extra incentive and doing correspondence from home. I think CO had a pull for me at that age because I was really into park at the time and had family friends there. Prior to a season at Keystone, I ended up back in Alaska but soon felt restless. I needed to snowboard, and I wanted something better than Fairbanks. The next winter I moved to Tahoe on the recommendation of my best friend Ryland Bell who was living with Dave Hatchett at the time. It snowed 20ft that December at Squaw, and I was blown away. We had the best season, again life-changing. Pretty much just doing hot laps on a natural terrain park all day with your friends, that was KT-22 for me, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I felt I had to progress through, find my path. Naturally, I was drawn to everything I had seen in the PNW by passing through a few times and had to go check it out more extensively. I guess honestly I followed a girl to Baker haha, but I spent a couple of the best resort seasons that I’ve ever had there, and I thank her for that. It snowed a lot! After things fell apart between us I wanted to stay in Washington for good lift access. I decided to try Crystal Mountain just a little further South by Mt Rainier. I had been here a couple of times for Freeride contests, and it just had this pull. Big Mtn style terrain and good chairlift access to a lot of rad zones. The perfect training grounds for AK. After 6 years here it really feels right. WA has a great blend of steep terrain, minimal crowds, and coastal powder. I think that has kept me here and stoked to ride at a resort. That’s what keeps me in the lower 48 during the winter months, to ride chairlifts. I always feel that pull to return to AK in the spring though once I’ve honed skills for the season. The true proving grounds for freeriding.

You ride 100+ days a season, how do you keep your feet, knees, and board happy? Shred rituals or gear recommendations?

MH: I do have a few things that I’ve developed over the years to keep me charging out there all day, every day. Physically just staying up on eating right and stretching after riding has always been so important to me. Plus staying up on snow safety skills for the backcountry. As far as gear I think that besides the board and your bindings, boots really make the biggest difference for performance. I have definitely learned and developed a sense that you really need to fine-tune your footwear too. For big mountain freeriding I pretty much want the stiffest boot possible and these days it has been the Van’s Infuse boot or the Driver X from Burton. But the biggest improvement you can give a boot are good liners and good footbeds. I wouldn’t ride a boot anymore without customizing and supercharging them. The liners from Intuition have been a full game-changer over the last 5 years of my riding. They really stiffen up a good boot while adding comfort. You can totally dial in the flex of a boot to your comfort level through their customized line, and the liners are sure to outlast your snowboard boot shell. These days I’m rocking a canted footbed from Shred Soles with a Pro Tongue liner. The best setup I could ever ask for. Plus riding next level quality boards from YES and mounting them up with the skatetech binding design from NOW has been an unrivaled set up for me. Your snowboard should be an extension of you and perform how you want it to.

PNWing with Morgan Hebert. Photo by David Chisa.

Most memorable experience on a board to date?

MH: I guess I would have to put going on a Warren Miller trip with Ryland back home in Alaska on the top of the list. It was a pretty surreal experience. Putting two Alaskan boys who grew up together on a heli trip in Cordova and see what goes down. Great memories there!

Next objective?

MH: I have a lot of goals locally but also want to film with my sponsors more and spend more time in BC. If I had to pick one overall objective I would say riding more big lines in Alaska will always be my focus over the coming years.

Favourite place to ride in Canada?

MH: I spent my Sophmore year of high school living in Vancouver, so BC will always be one of my favorites. I used to ride the bus to Mt. Seymour daily to shred. I really enjoyed exploring the sidecountry there and all of the easy hits to session. Super fun mountain. The Whistler Blackcomb and Pemberton area is all time too. I really need to explore more of that and the backcountry surrounding it.

What is snowboarding to you?

MH: It’s everything to me. A way of life, a religion, an art form.

Any other thoughts?

MH: I am really appreciative of every day on my snowboard, this life, and so stoked to get to represent the companies I believe in. The gear I’m on is unparalleled; Thank you to YES snowboards, NOW bindings, Intuition Liners, Crystal Mountain, Homeschool Outerwear, Drop mfg, Shred Soles, Ombraz, Smith, Boarderline Legacy Alaska, and Aurora Projekt.

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