Island X, an amazing mix of fire and ice

In 2020, as the planet was hit by the pandemic, the legendary photographer Mark McInnis saw his world turned upside down when a forest fire reduced his house to ashes, burning all the works of his career in the process. A huge blow to the Oregon native, who first rose to prominence photographing the wild, frosty landscapes of his beloved Pacific Northwest region, before moving from coast to coast. the other.

McInnis does its best job when snow replaces sand on beaches. He put together a team of cold water aficionados. He could have given up the photography game and gone for a more traditional job after this tragedy, but that’s not our man’s life, and his team wouldn’t have allowed it anyway. Mcinnis’ friends rallied behind him, first raising funds and then using what he’s most passionate about, hunting dark waves in the middle of nowhere.

The result is Island X, Ben Weiland’s arctic opus, which can be seen above.

Mark, you lost your life’s work and it was clearly devastating. Were you tempted to give it all up or was that never a possibility? What other careers would you have considered?

Losing everything I had in the fire was a real shock and, to be honest, it unsettled me a bit. But at the end of the day, photography and being a photographer is really all I know. And besides, that’s what I love. So I never really thought I would do anything else. What I can tell you, though, is how much Island X’s first trip meant to me. It was my first surf trip after the fire. It confirmed to me that traveling and exploring faraway stretches of coast, especially the coldest ones, is what I’m made for. In that sense, it was a very important trip and a very important moment in my life. I felt whole again.

What is the genesis of Island X?

Ben Weiland and I have wanted to do something really new and different for a long time. Ben is used to making captivating surf films in the most unlikely places. So when an island scientist, Jeremy, contacted Ben to tell him about the waves on the island, we were all ears. And, coincidentally, Jeremy knew that there was a local that was a little overpriced. His name is Ricardo Merculief and we got to know him. I am happy to say that Ricardo is now a friend. I don’t know anyone that nice. He has captained 40ft boats in the Bering Sea and is a professional boat welder on Maui. This guy is a legend.

Mark McInnis, on the other side of the lens, but still active..

© Island X

Ben and these surfers have been some of your closest companions over the years…

The whole team is united. That’s what you want when you go on a trip. You want people who can weather the storm, literally and figuratively. It was therefore important that we have a solid, close team, like this one. And the first trip we took there was in 2019, about a year before the fire. So it was always about the mission. But on the second trip, in December 2021, there was definitely a deeper meaning. You could feel it. These guys had my back like they always do.

Frozen tundras & depilation in mittens, it’s surfing in the Bering Sea

© Mark McInnis

Who is Ben Weiland?

Not only is Ben an incredible documentarian and filmmaker, but he is also an inspiration. He is what we should all aspire to be. He is kind, humble, honest and courageous. Ben has done a lot for me, both in our friendship and in my career. I will always be indebted to him for giving me the experience of Island X. It is a place that has a special meaning for me. It’s a place that has a lot of my soul and I owe it all to Ben.

On the second trip to the island, we were stuck in Anchorage. We couldn’t get out. Flights were canceled and the only flight we were able to catch was turned back due to ice building up on the plane’s windshield. We were all panicking. And, to tell the truth, I was not in a good position. I was so stressed and anxious. This trip was so close to never happening. But Ben is exactly the person you want in this kind of scenario. Ben was calm like and that cool attitude rubbed off on me too. And you know what ? We made it work. But without Ben and his always positive attitude, I don’t think we would have succeeded. It’s thanks to Ben. And it always will be.

Pete Devries sends aerials

© Island X

Tell us about Josh Mulcoy.

Josh Mulcoy is legendary. This dude must be the oldest professional freesurfer in the world and for good reason. Josh is in his fifties and still surfs better than guys half his age. Actually, he’s my favorite surfer. I enjoy tubing and turns and Josh is a master at both. He is also one of my closest friends and he has been there for me on this roller coaster of life like few others.

Josh Mulcoy smiling through the blizzard

© Island X

Who is Pete Devries?

Pete Devries, the Swiss army knife of surfing! I’ve traveled the world with Pete and there really are few people this precious. We all know Pete’s prowess in all areas of surfing. Pete can do it all, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how much time and energy he puts in behind the scenes.

Pete is always the first to make good coffee for the guys. He constantly monitors the swell and the wind in order to guide the team towards the best waves. He is the first to light the wood stove. He goes to get beer when no one else wants to. And he has this uncanny ability to know a place before he’s even been there. I remember a trip to Scotland with him once. We were driving around in the car and Pete told us to take the next left. We did it. And at the end of the road there was a perfect little straight for us alone. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you travel with Pete.

Josh Mulcoy finds an awesome wave

© Island X

Noah Wegrich is the MVP of the trip…

Waggy is one of those guys who can make any situation better. Just having it around instantly raises the level. Waggy is also originally from Santa Cruz. I think being raised in the waves by his dad really shaped the man he is today.

Pete Devries and that sweet moment of anticipation…

© Island X

How blown away were you by the waves of Island X?

Man, the waves were crazy. I mean, you have to realize that we’re in that fucking Bering Sea! I think we all expected to get knocked out. So when we showed up for this second trip and got pounded for nine straight days, we were breathless. In fact, when we left the island, Pete said, “You know what? This is the first trip in my life where I haven’t done a single tune.” It blew me away. And that’s a real testament to the waves we had on this trip.

Noah Wegrich in a perfect frosted tube

© Mark McInnis

Does it make you want to look for other adventures?

Oh yes, always. I’m always hungry for more. The world may seem small, but when it comes to undiscovered waves, it’s still huge. There are corners all around the globe that have yet to be explored for surfing. That’s kinda all I want to do now.

The silhouette of Noah Wegrich

© Mark McInnis

There must have been a lot of emotions when you took off; Is Mark McInnis back?

Unfortunately bad weather forced us to leave early. It was either that or stay a few more weeks and risk missing Christmas with my family. Honestly, I would have stayed. I think others would have too, but we scored points and it was time to go. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little moved when I left this island. It’s a special place for me and not just for the waves. We have friends there now that I can’t wait to see again. There will be a community of young local surfers now! We brought boards and wetsuits and gave them surf lessons.

Sounds appetizing, right?

© Mark McInnis

A final word on the Island X experience?

The Island X experience is truly about trust, friendship and making your wildest dreams come true. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. I mean, we almost didn’t come back on the second attempt. In the middle of nowhere, the Bering Sea, chaos.

A frozen dream scene, somewhere in the Bering Sea

© Mark McInnis

Why should people watch Island X?

Because it’s more than just an uncrowded surf spot. It’s a story about resilience, friendship and seeing things through. It’s a good story! And God knows we all need to feel good.

We wish to say thanks to the writer of this article for this outstanding content

Island X, an amazing mix of fire and ice

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