Fear and Euphoria

A recount of my most memorable session.

Words by Louie Hynd & Photos by Darcy Ward


I arrive bewildered and exhausted in the middle of nowhere after 24hrs in transit. After two flights and a lengthy overnight drive, I found myself at the location of a wave that should be lighting up according to the charts. The harsh afternoon desert heat blared down on me as I dragged my feet through the orange dirt toward the edge of the cliffs.  As I stood on the edge of the crumbling cliffs, I look out at one of the most notorious surf spots in the world.

The full brunt of the southern ocean was detonating onto a shallow slab of reef. The conditions didn’t look perfect, the solid swell washing through on the sets and a light onshore wind causing ribs and chop on the wave face. Far from the ideal combination at a wave of such consequence. But I thought I may as well give it a go anyway. Just to tick it off the bucket list since I’d come so far.

As I was getting ready, I couldn’t help but feel a strange energy. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my heart beat a little quicker. It may have been the prior knowledge of some of the dark history that surrounded the place. Standing on the same cliff where a group of early settlers apparently drove 260 aboriginals towards the edge and forced them to jump, or be shot. Maybe it was the fact that the spot is notorious for great white sharks and not too long ago, a man was devoured whole by a great white while surfing the break I was about to paddle out at. The incident confirmed by two eyewitnesses who each then and there, took a vow to never step foot in the ocean again. A pub horror story that remains well versed by many of the locals that call the desolate lands home.

Regardless of the bad juju in the air, there was still the potential for a few crazy rides. The sun was starting to dive and I knew that I didn’t want to stay out too long as the day was fast approaching PST (Prime Shark Time).

The first challenge is attempting to reach the sand to paddle out. No beach access stairs around here. How about traverse your way down a steep, loose-footed rock and dirt cliff instead? Okay! With nobody around to tell me the right way to get down, I decided to go with my default navigational and problem-solving strategy; just wing it. I cautiously and ungainly slip slided my way down the slope. Each wary footstep causing mini avalanches of dirt and rock larger than the last. After a treacherous descent of the cliff, I eventually make it to the beach, but not completely unscathed. Kicking a rock toward the end of the trip down resulted in a ripped wetsuit bootie and bleeding cut. Great, now I was going to be attracting sharks and have numb toes.

My Anxiety had since taken form as a tiny red devil on my shoulder, whispering in my ear, tantalising me with its persuasive allure.

‘This isn’t worth it, the waves don’t even look that good.”

“It’s way more risk than reward.”

“Fuck this. Go back to the car,” the tiny red devil persuaded.

A few deep inhalations later and an empowered ‘Fuck it’ rebuttal from the tiny white angel on the other shoulder gave me the attitude adjustment required to get me out there.

Feeling equal parts anxious and exhilarated, I paddle out through the deep channel behind the wave. The eerie darkness of the water perpetuated the already spooky vibes. Not eager to sit on my own, I paddle straight up to the two guys that were already out to exchange pleasantries.

Being an outsider hunting waves in a heavily localized area of the world means you’re constantly walking on eggshells. And don’t even think about pulling out a camera. I crossed my fingers and hoped they weren’t two gnarly locals ready give me an earful; especially if they’d already detected the not so disguised tripod amongst the cliffs…  Luckily for me, they’re just two men on a road trip from Wollongong. Phew! Bullet dodged.

I always like to take off on a wave as soon as possible. I find it helps me tune in with the energy of the ocean. When the waves are intimidating, the longer you sit and over analyze the conditions and waves, the less confidence you gain and the more fear you begin to develop. My preparation consisted of surfing 2ft, 3-second period wind slop on the Gold Coast for the past two months. It’s a real shock to the system when you're suddenly thrown into a large long-period southern ocean swell. (Period of swell is the time between each wave. The longer the period, the more power and water in the wave as it folds over the reef).

A reasonably sized in-between set wave appeared. I turned to the bloke beside me and probed for a hint to what a good one should look like. He gave a hesitant remark that didn’t exactly give away the answers to the test paper.

Any spot you surf, good ones are the kinds of waves you see break and think fuck, I wish I were on that!  Picking a good one comes down to your ability to read the ocean and identify waves with the right look. At waves of consequence like this one, recognizing the look becomes less of a calculation and more of a spiritual connection.

For me, a swell line with the look emits intangible euphoric energy that connects with my intuition, giving me an instinctive sense of, that’s a good one and you should probably start paddling.

You’re essentially reading the ocean and coming up with a hypothesis on how that particular swell will hit the reef and break. The angle the swell is coming in, how much energy there is in the wave, and numerous other small factors are added up to create your hypothesis. Reconciliation between the scientific calculation and spiritual connection is how you ultimately make your decision to commit or let the wave go.

Surfing this spot, the ability to feel this connection would mean the difference between getting blown out of a crazy tube or being slammed on the reef and ferociously rag-dolled under the water for an uncomfortable amount of time.

Energy doesn’t lie. The result of trusting this intuitive connection and your skill to ride the wave is when you get to experience what I believe to be one of the most incredible natural highs that life can give.

It’s why passionate surfers have that insatiable desire and dedication to search far and wide, hunting new and different waves.

We’re chasing the dragon for another hit.  Each wave is different, making every high unique. That’s how surfing becomes such a strong addiction.

I swing around for a wave and paddle my heart out. So much water is surging off the reef; it feels like I’m not even moving. Eventually, I feel the wave start to pick me up. Time to try and take off on this thing. Hands leave the rail and my feet jump onto my board as I knife down the wave. There is so much power and speed in the wave, I could see it already starting to run off on me before I even got to the bottom. Too late to turn off the bottom I was forced to straighten out. I made it safely out the front of the wave away from the lip; only to be mowed down by an avalanche of white water. One deep inhale of air and I pin dropped off my board.  Despite jumping off in the safest place, I still get absolutely flogged.  Surfacing a little while later, way on the inside of the break. It was time to face the part of the surf I’d been dreading; the long, very lonely paddle back to the take-off spot, through the deepest, darkest, sharkiest water you could ever find yourself in.

I cop a few more waves on the head before I reach the channel. Rattled and dizzy, I take a moment to compose myself. 

“Deep breaths Louie, deeeeep breaths,” I whisper to myself in an attempt to calm my racing heartbeat.

I start paddling as fast as I can without splashing around too much. The feeling reconnected me with my childhood irrational fear of being in the deep end of the swimming pool.

You’re not scared of the water, you’re afraid of the unknown.

“Don’t look down, keep looking forward and keep moving those twigs you call arms. There’s safety in numbers, just reach the lads at the take-off spot and you’re in the clear”, I reassured myself.

Halfway there and I’m quickly heating up. I shouldn’t have worn the 4/3.  I eased off the gas knowing if I try to keep up that sort of record pace for the whole session, my arms would end up turning to jelly very prematurely. With the lads now within close range, I feel more comfortable and reach them pretty soon after.

One of the guys yells out, “Hey mate, just letting you know we’re gonna head in. Not getting that many and it’s getting kind of late. You gonna stay out or head in too?” I’d only had one wave and it was a flogging, no way I was wrapping up my session like that.

“No worries lads, I’m gonna stay out, wouldn’t mind just trying to get one decent one” I reply.

Gone, taking with them the safety of their presence. An involuntary solo sesh is upon me…


As I sit there alone, scanning each swell rolling through, I notice the wind slightly drop off and swing offshore. I’m in luck, it’s the beginning of the natural phenomenon much appreciated by surfers - The LAGO (late arvo glass off).

The ocean cleaned up and the wind started to swing lightly offshore, meaning the absence of a chandelier falling through the barrels. 

An opportunity for a stand tall pit was now truly on the cards.

A set approaches and I feel the instinctive feeling to go. Learning from my mistake earlier, rather than paddling out and waiting for the wave to jack up, I immediately swing and start paddling in as hard as I can.

Paddling feels like I’m battling with the opposite direction on an escalator. As the wave starts to pull me up the face; I grab the rails and jump to my feet. The bottom is dropping out faster than I can get down the face. I freefall for a split second and then land.

I look up and see the golden afternoon light beaming through the lip as it throws over me, illuminating the emerald green tube I’m standing in.

I stand there for a moment, truly present. Mouth wide and eyes beaming in sheer awe of the beauty and energy I’m experiencing. The intense natural euphoria of this moment seems to slow your perception of time, gifting the chance to enjoy a completely unique experience for much longer compared to someone watching. All senses are in overdrive, absorbing and reacting all at the same moment. I come flying out of the tube hooting myself and kicked out into the channel. That’s what I came I here for.


I lay down on my board and start the paddle back out. My body suddenly jolts when a dorsal fin emerges just inside my peripheral vision.

It’s just a dolphin, thank god. I’m suddenly surrounded by a whole pod of dolphins that are just out of arm’s reach. It’s pretty common to see dolphins in the ocean, but to be paddling alone with an entire pod in the wild is something else. I feel safe with them around me, like they are my security convoy, protecting me from harm.

(I later heard an alternative opinion that when a pod of dolphins does this, they are actually drawing the attention of a predator away from them and towards you. Oh the naivety!)

In true ignorance is bliss fashion, I take the experience as a spiritual connection as they swim with me all the way until I get back to the take-off, where they too begin catching waves themselves.  Scoring pumping waves with only a pod of dolphins challenging for priority. There was no way I was heading in now.


I traded a few more waves with the pod until another surfer eventually joined me. I threw him a wave and received one back. I recognised him, it was the underground surfing world core lord known only as ‘Camel’. I’d met him once before but, I still felt slightly star-struck in his presence. His dedication and passion for surfing, especially large tubes, is second to none.

He’s a man who has lived an extraordinary life fuelled by nothing other than the desire of chasing that feeling.

A true inspiration to living life the way you see it. We exchanged tales of epic sessions we’d experienced and I listened in awe as he shared details of some of his wild escapades.

He was coming off a major injury and was just happy to be in the ocean again. He belly boarded a few waves off the shoulder, but his real stoke came from calling me into sets. His mind is so analytically dialled into the ocean after a lifetime studying it. Explaining why a wave was doing with pinpoint accuracy and detail. I had complete confidence in his wave selection whenever he said ‘go this one’. Wave after wave I kick out into the channel to see him claiming it in the distance with pure froth!

As the sun neared the horizon, I decide to wrap the session. I let Camel know my decision and he responded in sigh of relief. “I was hoping you’d say that soon, I was only really staying out to keep you company.” We paddle with purpose back around the top of the wave and make it safely to the sand. One last burst of effort to scale the crumbly cliff side and I make it back to solid ground.

I sit and watch perfect empty waves continue to roll through under the pristine sunset. Revelling in the euphoria of having just experienced one of the most memorable sessions I’ll ever have.


Check out Louie and Darcy's latest clip: IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003

IMAGINATION ROULETTE EP003 from Darcy Ward on Vimeo.



Instagram:  @louiehynd 

Instagram@darcywardvisuals   Vimeo@darcywardvisuals

What does DNA, iPods, Quantum Mechanics,The Beatles, the Computer Mouse and Nobel Prizes all have in common ? LSD.

Where would we be without LSD ?

What does DNA, iPods, Quantum Mechanics, The Beatles, the Computer Mouse and Nobel Prizes all have in common? Acid.

Microdosing has become a recent trend in Silicon Valley; taking small amounts of psychedelics, usually in the form of LSD (acid), mescaline or Psilocybin (Magic Mushrooms) to improve creativity and focus. Although micro-dosing is a relatively new concept, professionals using LSD isn’t. So what have people achieved through using LSD? Apart from deep introspective thoughts, conspiracy theories and a newly found love for psytrance, LSD has helped some of the greatest minds in the last century.  In fact, tripping balls has resulted in some groundbreaking achievements, including; DNA, iPods, Quantum Mechanics, The Beatles, the computer mouse and a number of Nobel Prizes.

80 years ago on a cold winter's day in Switzerland, Albert Hoffmann synthesized a chemical that would change the world,  lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). However, the power of LSD wasn’t fully understood until Hofmann performed a self-experiment. After Ingesting more than 10 times the threshold dose, Hoffmann rode his bike home and experienced the first acid trip. That day is now known as Bicycle Day.  A day that LSD proved to Hoffmann that he had discovered something significant. Ever since then, LSD has been used throughout the world by all kinds of people, not just acid-heads at Grateful Dead concerts.

The Computer Mouse

Douglas Engelbart

Not just the computer mouse. Douglas Engelbart also created copy and paste. Can you even imagine a world without copy and paste?  It would suck.  LSD was and still is popular with engineers and computer scientists because of the way the drug creates new connections in the brain, perfect for abstract problem-solving. The first LSD trip Engelbart had was at the International Foundation of Advanced Study (IFAS), which was a facility researching the connection between LSD and enhanced creativity. IFAS lead over 350 people through LSD experiences during its operation. During one of Engelbart’s LSD experiences, he developed a prototype for the computer mouse. But it didn’t end there. Engelbart later developed hypertext, network computers, the keyboard and precursors to graphical user interfaces. Engelbart’s Law is also named after Douglas Engelbart, which states that “the ability to improve on improvements (Bootstrapping, "getting better at getting better") resides entirely within the human sphere.” Douglas Engelbart. Inventor. Scientist. Philosopher. Acid.


Steve Jobs

Chances are you probably have an apple product within reach while you read this article. And it’s all thanks to our good old friend LSD (well, partly because of it). Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple used to be a massive fan of LSD and a bit of a hippy in his youth. Most of his acid trips were during his youth with his old friend and early Apple employee Daniel Kottke. He said that LSD was one of the most important things he has done in his life.

He had taken LSD a number of times and he credits his outside-the-box thinking to his psychedelic experiences. This is what Jobs had to say about his experiences:

Albert Hofmann, the man who created LSD even reached out to Jobs before he passed away:

Dear Mr. Steve Jobs,

Hello from Albert Hofmann. I understand from media accounts that you feel LSD helped you creatively in your development of Apple Computers and your personal spiritual quest. I’m interested in learning more about how LSD was useful to you.

I’m writing now, shortly after my 101st birthday, to request that you support Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Peter Gasser’s proposed study of LSD-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with anxiety associated with life-threatening illness. This will become the first LSD-assisted psychotherapy study in over 35 years, and will be sponsored by MAPS.

I hope you will help in the transformation of my problem child into a wonder child.


Albert Hofmann


Francis Crick

After reading Aldous Huxley’s experience with LSD, Francis Harry Compton Crick - a molecular biologist, biophysicist, and neuroscientists - became intrigued with the drug. Crick had been working on x-ray diffraction and trying to understand the structure and function of DNA. During Crick’s first LSD experience, he supposedly perceived the double-helix shape of DNA while he was hallucinating. He described his hallucination of the intertwining helix structures of DNA to his wife who illustrated the concept. After further research, (not on acid) Crick and his research partners were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material".

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

Kary Banks Mullis

“It (LSD) was certainly more important than any course I ever took.”

Just because Kary Bank Mullis said so, it probably isn’t the best idea to drop out of uni and start dropping acid. However, his experience with LSD was both profound and incredibly productive. Mullis, born in 1944, was a biochemist who won the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1993 for his invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique.  PCR is a technique used to cut up segments of DNA so they can be copied and easily tested. An inexpensive technique used to amplify segments of DNA used to detect viruses such as AIDS, diagnose genetic disorders and DNA fingerprinting. It is notably the most widely used technique in molecular biology testing. Mullis openly said that his successes were a result of his LSD experiences. In an interview with California Monthly, one year after he won the Nobel prize Mullis said: “Would I have invented PCR if I hadn’t taken LSD? I seriously doubt it. I could sit on a DNA molecule and watch the polymers go by. I learnt that partly on psychedelic drugs."

Quantum Mechanics

Richard Phillips Feynman

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics, describing nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles (Feynman, 1964). Even the name sounds confusing. Even Feynman said; "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." Nevertheless, in Feynman’s autobiography, Surely You're Joking, he stated that he frequently smoked weed and took LSD during his work.  He and two of his research partners shared the 1965 Nobel prize in physics "for their fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics, with deep-ploughing consequences for the physics of elementary particles." Bill Gates is a big fan of Feynman and he even wrote an article describing Feynman’s talent as a teacher, titled "The Best Teacher I Never Had".

The Beatles

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr

George Harrison and John Lennon were the first members of The Beatles to experience LSD. Their dentist friend dropped a dose of acid into their drinks at a dinner party. An experience that inspired their album Revolver the following year. However, their introduction to acid also created a divide in the bands dynamic that never truely healed. George Harrison and John Lennon “couldn’t relate to them (Paul Mccartney & Ringo Star) anymore,” because their LSD trip was such a mammoth experience. All members of The Beatles eventually had their own experiences with LSD which inspired a number of their songs. In an interview with Playboy magazine in 1980, Lennon explained the background to the lyrics from I am the Walrus:

"The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend".

Hopefully, the war on drugs will subside enough for more research to be conducted on LSD and other psychoactive substances for medicinal purposes. The potential uses for LSD and psychedelics are not fully known, although the research already conducted has shown how it can be used to help people manage anxiety accompanied with terminal illnesses and psychotherapy. There are far too many famous LSD experiences to list and plenty more to come in the future. If you do choose to take psychedelics, test your drugs using a test kit (such as ez-test kits ), always have a sober trip sitter, start at a low dose, be smart and stay safe.

Taking a Dump at 6000m

For the first month in Nepal, I trekked. I didn’t shower for 23 days and I loved it. I was so greasy that I started to repel water.

Trekking is as good as they say it is: The views, the sense of accomplishment, the detachment from the rest of the world. As soon as you’re up there, everything else slips away. WiFi become an unjustifiable outgoing, and the date is of little coincidence.

Life reduces to staying warm, fed, rested, and not collapsing on the side of a mountain; incapacitated with a bout of Altitude Sickness; cerebral fluids permeating into your brain.

People, it’s a headache – you do not need a helicopter.

If you’ve trekked, you’ll know the types I mean. The people who rack up lines of Diamox on their crampons at the slightest notion of a blister. (Diamox is basically altitude medicine.)

As I mentioned before, I dropped over a grand on basically climbing a really big hill. Imja Tse (more commonly referred to as Island Peak) is located in Sagarmatha National Park, Eastern Nepal (Sagarmatha being Mt. Everest). It is 6189m tall and can be climbed from base camp at 5100m in a day.

For your money, you recieve a trekking permit, two chefs to cook, a tent to sleep and a Sherpa guide to stand watch as you take a dump at 6000m – in my case at least.

Aside from our Sherpa, Namgel, I would be adventuring with Raoul, a Dutch guy. He was really cool. We bonded over a spliff in the tent at basecamp, where he told of his recent “darkroom” pregnancy scare.

“What’s a darkroom?” I asked, bristled with naive inquisitiveness.

“It’s a room in a club that adopts a certain, “free love” mentality… basically, you can fuck in there.”

“In a club? Like a public club? With dancing and drugs?”

“Yeah, and sex. It’s Amsterdam man.”

“Wow,” I said, taking a long contemplative drag on the joint. “So, you fucked a girl in a club, without protection, and she might be pregnant?”

“No, no, no, she’s not pregnant,” he said cooly, “I visited her in prison and got the all clear.”

I creased over in laughter. Raoul too.”What the fuck man?!” I baulked.
I had been slightly worried that I’d be partnered with an irritatingly enthusiastic lover of the hills, someone who marvels at the wonderous beauty in every stone… I needn’t have worried.

As dusk slowly chewed at the labouring light of day, we rolled and smoked another joint, passing the time until dinner.

Akin to a bear before hibernation, I thought it would be wise to consume all available food; to occupy every permissable space in my stomach with energy reserves; namely rice, daal (lentils) and curry. Then a few hours later, just after midnight, breakfast: two hearty bowls of porridge, 2 eggs and 2 toast; that I had to drag, kicking and screaming into my gut. I didn’t feel too great.

As soon as I’d cleaned my plate and sank a coffee, Raoul and I were rushed outside and told to pack our gear. It was about 1 ‘o’clock in the morning. We waddled off into the boulder fields. Cool rocks reflected the soft glow of the stars. Headtorches weren’t needed.

It was like being in a battlefield, as Nature lay seige to the mountain. Helpless to the anger in the sky, and the harsh agenda of the earth, Island Peak succumbed to relentlessness of rain, wind, sleet and snow.
Wonderful scars in the rock and the litterings of scree told of an inevitable tragedy; as slowly the mountain succumbed to the indifferent march of time.

My bowels squealed with unease.

It might have been the weeping spice that I’d garnished my dinner with, or the water I’d drank, untreated from a stagnant barrel in the camp; or maybe the breakfast, hurriedly consumed moments before; or, all three – working together in malevolent partnership.

Whatever the case, my stomach felt fucking terrible.

Following the powerful, insulated rump of Namgel, we dug into the first few hundred metres of the mountain. The Sherpa had a body of a bear and the step of a goat; an Everest summiter six times over – boasting the scalps of many of the other 8000m giants – he was a real Mountain Man.
I shadowed his movements with Raoul behind me, continuing in this manner for the first few hours; the mountain still shrouded by the black drapings of night.

I was a slave at this point, tied to the whimsical convulsions of my belly.

It felt as though the centre of the earth had become the new, arsehole roomate of my stomach; a fiery plasticity of lead and nickel that twistied and convulsed with a steely, inconsiderate malevolence.

I trundled on, riding waves of discomfort into the upper atmospheric reaches of that malicious shit storm, bending at the waist when a particularly colourful contraction would stretch throughout my abdomen – balls to diaphragm – like a baby trying to stand up.

I looked skyward, regarding the clear, calm blackness with envious eyes.

Morning stretched it’s legs, and limbs of gold lapped at the walls of the icy basin in which we tred; the deep blue body of night sugglishly withdrawing to the West. In the East, a new pale light hugged at the white-capped peaks, outlining their harsh, jagged lines and setting light to the snow that lazed atop their granite bulks.

“Namgel,” I called ahead, finally sumitting to the inconsolable cries of my colon. “I need the toilet.” He stopped, and without disposing of any words, gestured with a sweep of his pole to go beside any rock of my choice. “No, Namgel..,” I had to add, “big toilet.” He chewed on this for a few moments – it didn’t seem like a familiar request.

He gestured to a rocky outcrop, five-or-so-metres away, with a gentle warning: “don’t go too far.”

So I trundled away from the pack, searching for shelter from the wind and any wandering headtorches. I sat on my haunches, positioned myself between two large rocks and uncorked. Out of the wind, it wasn’t all that bad.
I marvelled at our progress, now at about 5,600m, appreciating the opportunity to stop and watch as the sun began to spill into the valley, like burning oil released from the ramparts of a fort. This will probably be the most majestic poo of my life, I mused happily – if not, it will definitely be the highest.

I finished the last of my loo roll, fastened my belt and returned to the troop jubilantly; energised by the alliance reformed with my digestive system.

We reached the snowline, stopping only to put on crampons (boot spikes), helmets and harnesses. We exchanged our poles for ice-axes and continued on, now bound together by a 20 metre stretch of rope.
We ascended and abseiled Imja Tse’s snowy battlements, bridging crevasses with horizontal ladders and navigating hidden snow holes – it was like an incredibly authentic role-play: “Be a Mountaineer for a Day!”
Kicking into faces of ice with my front spikes was a new pleasure to be exploited – it felt like walking up a deep wall of blue glass – bringing the point of my ice-axe down periodically; sucking a great satisfaction from the dull thud and the splinterrings of ice that followed.

I was having the time of my life. All the hours thrown into shitty jobs and wading balls-deep through equipment reviews had paid off.

And just like that, I was bowing to the ice again. At around 6,100 metres, a fresh enthusiasm reanimated the cacophony contained within my gut, as new and exciting pains drummed into the fleshy auditorium of my belly.
I doubled over, clenching the straps on my gaiters until a particularly loud internal crescendo subsided. “NAMGEL!” I shouted from the back.

I was cut from my harness and again warned not to venture far. “Holes,” cautioned the guide, pointing to the ground. I edged uneasily across the snow as my brain delayed my gut, working to prevent a plunge into any hidden crevasses – the impatient rasp of the unmentionable knocking at my backdoor.

This time, I found no solace in the sheltering of two conveniently placed rocks – there were no rocks at all – just a clean expanse of snow; nothing but their restraint separating my companions from my shivering shape.

Release came at a dear price: the relinquishment of all my heat. It was about -25°, with wind chill taken into consideration, and my wet wipes were frozen solid.

In a desperate effort to defrost them, I stowed them under an armpit, as my dingleberries quickly froze to christingleberries.

And then, as if though my body was desperately exploring every last bodily function in order to fight the cold, I felt something entirely unexpected transpiring between my thighs – an inexplicable tickle of the crotch. Now, they do say they come at the worst of times, but this was really taking the piss; and I’m sure you can imagine my dismay, then, as I noticed Raoul’s forearms drawing out the unmistakable, smooth arc of a phone taking a panorama.

I wiped hastily with a quarter block of still frozen wetwipe, drawing up my trousers quickly, trying to conceal whatever remained of my dignity.


Moronically, I then applied some hand sanitiser – I should not have applied hand sanitiser. The solution froze instantly, pinnochio-ing my hands into lifeless lumps of dumb, dead mahagony. Shards of superheated glass remained embezzled in my fingers long after Namgel finished putting my gloves back on for me.
I had returned to the group and we pressed onwards. Turning occasionally, I looked back on that little offering I had made; I watched as it slowly receded into the white, consumed by the greatness of the mountain and lost to the world.

Later, as we headed down from the summit, Namgel told me of the meaning behind the mountain’s name,

“‘Imja Tse’, it means..,” his sentence interrupted by an uncharacteristic giggle, “it means, ‘Belly of the Mountain’.”

The Undercurrent


Shirts emblazoned with illustrations from local artists with postcode pride.

Carly Snodgrass, the founder of The Undercurrent, has had her fair share of travelling. Trying to bring home some sort of souvenir, whether a piece of art or a keepsake from each trip. But it’s hard to find a souvenir that depicts the city you love that isn’t a keychain or an ‘I <3 ….’ t-shirt.

Which is why Carly started The Undercurrent. A souvenir that combines art, creative locals, postcode pride and t-shirts. A Gold Coast shirt made here, detailed with an illustration from a local artist, depicting your favourite postcode with it’s history printed on the tag. A souvenir t-shirt that isn’t lame.

After moving away for a long period of time, moving back to the Gold Coast might make you cringe at first, but you learn to appreciate it more. It has become a metropolis of creative people, artists, entrepreneurs and change-makers. So it’s nice to have a souvenir that represents the Gold Coast for what it really is, instead of Cavill ave and theme parks.


 'a hidden opinion, feeling, or tendency often contrary to the one publicly shown' or 'a current of water below the surface and moving in a different direction from any surface current'

Check out the range below with the artist and postcode behind each design.




Shop Here


Design by Sarah Huston

Sarah Huston is a Creative Director/Designer hailing from the Gold Coast but working around the globe. Sarah wears many hats (her mint green one is her favourite) and works across graphic, digitaland product design; photography, illustration and copywriting.



Palm Beach

Shop Here

Design by Ashley Nixon

Ashley’s art practice is a mixed bag of graphic design, sign-writing and healthy adoration of Australiana. Via mouse, paintbrush or pencil; his work has to have passed through my hand at some point of the design process.



Nobby's Beach

Shop Here

Design by Laura Strange

Laura is a multidisciplinary designer living and working on the sunny Gold Coast. Her creative journey started working as a broadcast designer for Channel Seven and undertaking a Bachelor of Design at Griffith University’s College of Art where she scored Best Portfolio upon graduation.



Shop Here

Design by Hayley O’Connor

Hayley O’Connor is a Melbourne born Gold coast based Illustrator and Graphic designer. Hayley is the creator of unique artworks, textile prints and typography.



Gold Coast

Shop Here

Design by Matt English

Since moving to the Gold Coast from Sydney in 2008, Matt’s artistic focus has developed towards the love of minimalism. Inspired by everyday life and the beauty of the female form.



Surfers Paradise

Shop Here

Design by Sarah Beetson

Sarah Beetson is a colourful character with an equally colourful array of career notches under her sparkly belt. Hailing from the UK, Sarah is an illustrator and artist whose portfolio spans from prestigious fashion houses to international magazines.



Mermaid Beach

Shop Here


Design by Claudio Kirac

Claudio’s career spans more than 20 years working in a multi-disciplinary nature across photography, painting, design and illustration, transcending the boundaries between analogue and digital processes and outcomes.



Burleigh Heads

Shop Here

Design by Eric Koo

Eric Koo is a man of the world. Born in Mauritius, he moved to France at 18 to study fine art in the town of Lyon and upon completion was drawn to the Gold Coast’s salty lifestyle in 2000.



Shop Here

Design by Kiel Tillman

A curator of the cool and the kooky, Kiel Tillman is a man of many talents. Most notably of course, his design and illustration skills. Kiel’s murals grace the walls of some of the coolest cafes across the Coast and his illustrative designs have been picked up by both local and international brands.



Design by Byron Coathup

A long time participant in Coolangatta’s laidback surfing scene, Byron’s art and design is the epitome of the southern Gold Coast suburb he calls home.




"The Undercurrent was born from a desire to flaunt the Gold Coast through the eyes of locals. Featuring only local Gold Coast artists who share in a passion for this city’s unique culture, and offer them the opportunity to create projects on their home turf."

Shop Online Here

Follow on instagram @theundercurrentofficial


Photographing skate culture with Saeed Rahbaran

"My name is Saeed Rahbaran and I'm an editorial and commercial photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada."

"I was born in Vienna, Virginia, a small town 30 minutes west of Washington DC, and moved to Las Vegas in 2004. For the past 8 years I've split my time between Las Vegas and Southern California where I photographed a majority of my skateboarding work."

How would you describe your photography style?

I would describe my photography as storytelling within cultures that I’m interested in. What’s great about getting older is your interests expand immensely, and for me, the most minuscule things I question or learn about outside of my comfort zone make me want to dive in and document with a camera.

How did you get into skate photography?

I got into skateboard photography the day I began taking pictures. I was 16 years old and had just experienced a severe concussion that put me in the hospital overnight. This was my second serious skate related injury that needed real medical attention and my parents were beyond furious, mostly scared and sad. At the time I thought they were jerks for wanting me to quit entirely, but now I totally understand how insane that must be for a parent to go through. But my life was skateboarding and there was no way to stop, so I bought a camera and told them thats what I’ll do instead. In the beginning it felt more like an excuse to be out secretly skateboarding, but once I learned the craft of documenting the tricks, I fell in love and haven’t stopped since.

Can you tell us what was happening in photo below?

This is a picture of Ryan Reyes in the rain just after trying to get a trick at a ditch here in Vegas. It was summertime and well over 100 degrees out, but clouds were rolling through all morning making it somewhat bearable to skate. While he was trying the trick it instantly cooled down, the wind picked up, and it started pouring rain. Total defeat by bad weather.

What do you usually say and do when someone takes a slam skating?

I usually say the standard, “are you ok?” Every slam is different and you usually know right away if something is seriously wrong. Once I know the skater is ok I think it's best to just give them some space.

Can you tell us what happened in the photo above? 

Unlike my above answer, this describes a situation that triggers more than the “are you ok” statement. This is a photo of Ryan Spencer just moments after getting knocked out trying to boneless lipslide a rail in downtown LA. He clipped the rail and went face first into the rough asphalt, a complete freak accident seeing that he did the trick a few times prior. Everyone instantly gasped or blurted “holy shit.” He was knocked out for a few seconds, then got up and walked back with us to where we were sitting. I took this picture while he was trying to remember what happened. He must have repeated the same few things dozens of times, it was really scary. Luckily Ryan was ok, just a bad concussion and chewed up skin from the rough ground.

What is your favourite quote/saying?

Don’t condemn, criticize, or complain. A tough one to live by, but I’ve been doing my best!

What is your favourite cheap meal to cook? 

Ramen! I add tons of veggies, lemon, and sriracha to spice it up. It’s delicious and quick to make.

What is your favourite Nintendo 64 or GameCube game? 

I never really got into video games. I was always terrible at them and didn’t have the patience to learn each game. My big brother had a Nintendo 64 and I remember enjoying a snowboarding game and one of the race car games. I loved the fact that he would beat all the levels and I could mess around on all of them.


Head over to Saeed's website for more of his work and don't forget to follow him on Instagram for more epic shots and potential slams. Thanks for the chat legend!