The most famous and infamous peak on the planet explodes onto an uneven, lava-slab reef a scant 80m offshore, forming the benchmark by which all other waves are measured. The left at Pipe is best awakened by swells with a generous helping of W in them, as too much N will cause a grisly shutdown over the dangerous, cave-pocked section of the reef. Outer reefs filter, bend and reform arriving swells, focusing energy and extra height on the peak, before abruptly releasing a lip that guillotines mercilessly along the first section until the explosion of spit heralds the shoulder and room for a turn or two. When the swell direction heads beyond NW, Backdoor swings open and welcomes the best tube-jockeys to an expansive room, but the door often slams shut across this expanse of ultra-shallow, incongruous reef. Air drops are the only way in if you want the inside at Backdoor and ideal conditions include mid tide, ESE wind and headhigh to double-overhead faces (3-6ft Hawaiian). The lack of a paddling channel means it's often better to take the rip north and utilise the more defined access to the left, but expect serious beatings from the steroidal lips and whitewash. The legion of hazards is eclipsed by one defining factor - the crowd. This is the most sought after ride on the planet and normal rules don't apply. Avoid speculation, hesitation, lip-launches, trips over the falls and eye contact with the crew who will burn you into the pit of Pipeline purgatory. Forget it during summer, yet even when it's barely breaking there will be a pack ticking the Pipeline box, despite better waves at some of the nearby spots. Just in front of the grom factory Sunset Beach Elementary.