In Crested Butte, more than 30 testers have gathered for the Annual Board Test Week, where they are putting hundreds of the latest and greatest boards, boots and bindings through the ringer. One tester, Scott Johns, a Washington native with the personal mantra “only fun things,” gives a mid-week report on snow conditions, tours and stoke. Keep up with the Board Test by following #boardtestweek on Instagram, or check in on the BCM website for updates and photos.
Every run has been better than the last. That’s where we’re at after three days of board test week (#boardtestweek). We came from all over the country: Wyoming, Washington, California, Vermont, Oregon, Utah and even right here in cowboy Colorado. Many of us battled airline inefficiencies and prolonged layovers to get here.
We arrived to full-blown spring conditions. Nobody had set expectations very high. Variable groomers, some slush, obvious and hidden ice patches and a lot of sunshine. That was day one. Did I mention the splitboard quiver on steroids? Hard not to be stoked.
Day two. Three inches of white. Snow-cone-velvet-soft groomers, dust on crust, a few wind-loaded stashes and ever-widening smiles. Some of us made our way a tad deeper into the Southern Rockies for an afternoon tour and doubly-deep, untracked, stable tree riding. Each run has been better than the last.
Day three. We push even further north from town with Irwin Guides. Untouched, double-digit accumulation over the past two days. It was still dumping when we pulled up to the snowcat.
We split into three groups, rotating between skinning up and the dance-party luxury of the Irwin Guides snowcat. Everyone partook in a seemingly endless supply of snickerdoodles at Irwin’s “barn,” which is more of a glamorous backcountry lodge. After a gourmet burrito lunch, dessert was served up in true Colorado form: a bluebird afternoon. Each run has been better than the last.
Cliffs were sent. Rodeo 5’s and backies were hucked. Chunder was pointed and hopefully managed. Face shots were found and goggles filled with snow.
Day four? More sunshine, more touring and definitely a stout stack of boards, boots and bindings still to test. There are already some standouts. Collectively, we have no doubt that splitboard technology is improving rapidly. On this trip, for the first time, and several times, I have forgotten I was even on a split board. That’s what I want out of my backcountry setup; effortlessness; forgetting it’s there. When a snowboard becomes an extension of yourself, that’s when the magic happens. And for splitboarders, that gap is closing.
Stay tuned for the end-of-the-week wrap-up and the editors’ choices. You’ll discover what we found most interesting. And if you’re considering a trip to Colorado next year, do yourself a favor. Check out Irwin Guides, even if it’s just to drool over your keyboard. They’re in a special place, doing special things. They also do cool guided trips to places like South America and Iceland.
I think the snow gods know that yesterday is what I’ll be dreaming of, at least until the next run, which just might be better than the last. – Scott Johns