The Mount Baker Splitfest, in addition to splitboard testing, offers debauchery such as this backwards skinning race. Split Life Films photo.
A brand new splitboard costs a pretty penny. Before you drop your next paycheck on one, you want to test it out. And there’s no better place to do it than a splitboard festival.
Every spring, after board companies have touted next year’s line at trade shows and magazine-sponsored demos, they give the public a chance to skin, transition, and ride the latest and greatest splitboards at a handful of backcountry gatherings. Here are a few of the big ones coming up.
Mount Baker Splitfest, March 11-13
If there’s a pilgrimage to Mecca for splitboarders, this is it. The splitboarding community in the Pacific Northwest is strong and enthusiastic, perhaps more so than any corner of the country.
This splitfest raises money for the Northwest Avalanche Center, hosts demos, runs clinics, and serves as a large-scale meet-up for splitboarders looking for new splitboarding partners.
Bolton Valley Splitboard Festival, March 12
Bolton Valley Resort, just west of Mt. Mansfield State Forest, is a charming, small New England ski resort. Hosted by Catamount Trail Association and Lost Nation Brewing, this one-day event in northern Vermont is pretty much the only springtime splitboard gathering on the East Coast.
It offers demos and clinics, including Uphill 101 for new splitboarders. You’ll need to get a $17 to skin around the Nordic Center’s terrain.
Silverton Splitfest, April 7-10
This tiny, Colorado mountain town has a splitboard festival that is part gear test, part avalanche education. Because of its focus on avy awareness, it is not free. And because of its popularity, it’s not recommended to show up without registering. Tickets are $70 for a weekend of avy ed seminars, tours, and industry pow-wows.
If you have not ridden the San Juans yet, the splitfest is a must-go trip. The mountains there are big, really, really big, and the spring timing gives you a rare window of snowpack stability.