Waves crash down hard as the cold winds blowing from the Northeast leave faces numb.
Peter Birschbach, a 2021 graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Superior drops down the face of a wave, his feet planted sturdily on his eight-foot surfboard.
He rides the wave until its power ceases and the whitewater dissipates, then quickly jumping back onto his board, he paddles out to do it again. Birschbach has been surfing Lake Superior since the spring of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and has kept up with it ever since.
“I wanted to start because it looked like a great workout and appealing lifestyle, as well as a way to connect with nature,” Birschbach said.
Some of the best waves on Lake Superior can be found between mid-September and early April when winds of 18 to 19 miles per hour are more common.
While this seems like it would be a miserable time to be in the water, surfers are prepared with their five-to seven-millimeter-thick wetsuits, gloves, and booties.
There are a number of reasons as to why people are drawn to surfing, whether it be for the exercise or the desire to try something different.
Birschbach maintains his love for the surfing life for a couple of reasons. “My favorite part is probably that while I’m doing it I don’t care about anything else in the world, and the feeling of riding a wave is an incredible feeling,” Birschbach said.
With a growing number of individuals taking to the lake in recent years, the surfing lifestyle has begun to grasp the Twin Ports area.
One of the most popular areas to surf is along Minnesota’s North Shore, and while many surfers make the trek to designated beaches along this stretch of lake shore, Birschbach tends to explore more of what Wisconsin has to offer on the south shore of the lake.
Oftentimes finding remote locations with little to no other surfers present, allowing him to build an even stronger connection to the icy blue waters of Lake Superior.