Young Buck: Lucas Debari
Written by: Blair Habenicht / Photography by: Scott Sullivan
Lucas Debari built his thunder by watching the Mt. Baker Hard Core (MBHC), one of the most innovative and respected crews in snowboarding’s short history. After you watch his part in Absinthe’s 2001/2011 release, Now/Here, no doubt you will feel this influence and recognize Lucas’ riding as powerful and progressive beyond his 22 years. With ample support from The North Face and Rome, he is on a mission to summit the world and possesses the combination of rawness, rowdiness and respect to make it happen.
Where are you Lucas, your location?
It’s 10:15 at night and I’m drinking a Rainer tall can outside a gas station in Leavenworth, Washington, on a rock climbing trip with my homie Kale, who is also one of my number one snowboarding amigos. Living large.
Most pro snowsliders I know more or less abandon the mountains in summer for water and wood. You spend almost all your off-time rock climbing. What’s the appeal?
Yeah, I’ve been climbing for two years now and it stokes me out. It’s a much slower pace than snowboarding, like five or six inches of movement is a fucking big accomplishment, you know? With snowboarding you see your terrain, pick a line and snowboard down. Climbing is the same. You pick a line, and you kinda’ work these different crack systems, or bolt lines. Just like shredding, you can go climb easy stuff or you can go push your level.
You filmed with the Deeper crew this past season for a few weeks outside the heli’s permitted fly zone near Haines, Alaska. How was boarding a plane with skis for wheels and getting dropped off in the middle of the most vast backcountry range you’ve ever witnessed with not much more than a tent, a split-board and some climbing gear?
Being in AK, riding with the Absinthe crew, then boom, I’m in the smallest town you can imagine with Jeremy Jones and a handfull of complete gnarlers in this huge national park with nothing but a base camp to go back to.
“Jamie Lynn, without a doubt, will always have the best method in my opinion.” – Lucas Debari
I heard there was a chef at base camp with his own personal cooking tent waiting to serve the crew at the end of the day?
Um, not really. Tom Burt made some mean curry a few nights. I made pasta one night. As far as backcountry food goes, Tom held it down with the curry.
How was your first year filming with Absinthe? You scored the movie cover, so I imagine you have quite the part to go along with it.
Coming into this season I was definitely a bit nervous, in the big leagues more or less, but after a few sessions I figured, you know, fuck it, I’ll just snowboard the best that I can. Once I got more comfortable with the whole crew I started to become friends with the people I was riding with, things took off. Being around that kind of talent made me push my own abilities, try new things that I didn’t think I had the skill or ability to do before.
Heavy metal song in your part this year?
No, it’s the song in the teaser. When it comes to snowboarding, when I envision it, I think of heavy metal; that “fuck yeah” attitude. I don’t listen to music too often when I snowboard, but if I do, it’s heavy metal.
Photo: Brian Schaefer
Lucas, You have one of the richer backgrounds of any snowboarder your age. When was the first time you met Craig Kelly?
The first time I met Craig Kelly I was 5 years old, snowboarding down Chair 7 at Mt. Baker with my Mom. He came ripping by then stopped below us. He gave me a pointer. He told me I was leaning too far back and to act like I was grabbing for my nose as I was riding down the hill. Over my youth I ran into him here and there hanging out at Baker and in Glacier. Most of my meetings with him were at my parents’ restaurant in Glacier, Milano’s, in the dining room. It was pretty standard for pro snowboarders to come through my parents’ restaurant during my childhood, so that’s where I got to meet them mostly. I definitely remember the year before he died, seeing him, and I believe Tex Davenport, maybe a couple of other people, getting to talk to them briefly. Tex was by far my biggest influence as a kid. I heard that he dropped Table, a cliff that to my knowledge has not been dropped since, like 100 feet, twice in a day. I had a photo of him dropping the beast. I though Tex was one of the coolest people alive. Growing up I thought the MBHC was the coolest crew around. For me, those guys [the MBHC] all represented the skateboard counter culture that, in my eyes, defined snowboarding.
Your mom rips, your dad is a free-heel fanatic and your sister is one of the best female snowboarders I have ever met. Give me a little family rundown.
Yeah so, my parents were hippy telemarkers in the seventies. They met in the back parking lot of Mt. Baker. They were about 20, so like, 1975, ‘76? My sister and I came into the world around the late 80’s. They started a restaurant, Milano’s, in 1990, and that kind of became like a cool, cultural spot in Glacier to hang out. In 1992 my mom bought an old K2 snowboard off of Tex and then she got me a little ‘99 Asylum for Christmas that year. My mom and I started snowboarding together. Somewhere around ‘96 my sister started snowboarding. She was 8. Pretty much my entire life, snowboarding at Mt. Baker has been a family affair. Whether I liked it or not, I had to go to the mountain. There was definitely a period of my life when I didn’t enjoy snowboarding, from about 6 to 10 years old, and then again at like, 17.
Was there a lady friend involved in your second burn out?
Yeah, a lady friend. Just going for cheeks and pies. I knew I was fucking up. I let it happen for about a year, made some really poor choices. My early teenage years, I was really into the whole halfpipe scene. I wanted to go to the Olympics. Then I got hurt and was mentally over it. That style, to move up the ranks through competition, it just didn’t appeal to me any more.
It is obvious that you were still passionate about riding though, and I know that competing in all those contests had an influence on your freeriding; learning transition and then transferring that freestyle knowledge into the backcountry.
Yeah, it definitely helped me to become the snowboarder that I am. It was cool, but I’m glad it’s over; glad I didn’t pursue (competitive snowboarding) too much further. I’ve found a spot that I want to be in, riding the mountains, getting to enjoy them and still being able to make a career out of snowboarding. It’s the best.
Where do you want to take your riding from here?
Through becoming a more competent climber, I’ve seen the possibilities of mixing the two, trying to do some first descents, incorporating climbing technical routes to get to the top of some technical lines on my snowboard. I know that no one has snowboarded the tallest peaks on all seven continents, the seven summits. That is something that appeals to me. The adventure is what it’s really all about for me.
Where’s your next trip going to take you?
Patagonia. DCP, Xavier De La Rue and I are gonna go shred the inside of a volcano. Fifty years ago this volcano blew up and it made this five mile wide crater, and we’re going to set up base camp in the center of it, then hike back up and shred all these spine lines down into it. Sounds fucking crazy, right?
Anyone you’d like to thank that has helped you along the way?
Mom and dad, 100 percent. I definitely would not be where I am in snowboarding without my parents. People that have helped me along the way would be Nate Lind and Caleb Johnson. Nate more than anyone helped me realize why I liked snowboarding, and helped to steer me away from the dark path I was going down around 17, 18 years old. I owe Nate a lot.
Jonathan Glass is the Online Editor at Snowboard Magazine. If he says he is going snowboarding it means he's at après, early.
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