2016 Board Test Week Round Up

The last week was awesome, inspiring and exhausting. My board test team rode harder than bats outta hell, and they deserve every bit of recognition for their work. So I was pretty annoyed last night when I overheard some guy at the bar saying he was sick of hearing “so many snowboarders acting all high and mighty and saying things like, ‘Yea, it’s a pow day. But visibility is so low.’”

Or, “It’s so cramped in this snow-cat I can hardly tighten my boots.”

Or, “Wait. These almonds are unsalted?”

Or, “My base layers are itchy. These sheep must have rolled in wet grass.”

Or, as he tried to repeat in a hideous French accent, “These conditions, these mountains, are not as impressive as the Alps.”

Then that same man asked, “What’s up with splitboarders these days? They think just because they earn their turns all season that when board test week comes around they’ll be given food and drinks, slope-side lodging and lift tickets, guided backcountry tours and snow-cat rides, and a plethora of next year’s gear to ride for the week?”

Well actually, that’s pretty much what this gear test is all about. Over forty riders spent the past week testing the 2016 splitboard lineup, plus bindings and hardware, skins, boots and other goodies. Testers came from all over the country, some of them neglecting work, loved ones, pets, medical concerns and other responsibilities to be here for a week of splitboarding. Crested Butte, Colo. is also surrounded by national forest land, and half a dozen backcountry trailheads lay within ten minutes of town. The terrain is steep and rugged, and the trees are tight. If you send it off a rock, plan on an average of three turns before you encounter another obstacle. And those who stand sideways should also plan on spending a good deal of time traversing in and out of the most appealing zones. There’s a lot to ride here, but somebody’s got to do it.

So yea, we treat our testers kindly. They deserve it. After all, we do make them “suck it up,” “earn their turns,” “send it,” and “go big then go home.” And, we make them ride new gear that wasn’t made specifically for their riding styles. Shoot, I once even had to hand a tester, who was trying to relax in a hot tub at under 104-degrees, a hoppy lager when all she really wanted was a light pilsner. And, snowflakes fell in her beer when I opened it. Life’s not easy for these folks. Here are some photos from the past week as proof.

Brrr… Don’t they look cold?


[Photo} Adam Broderick

How about that dog? Think she really wants a lift on dad’s back out to a winter romping wonderland? Life looks ruff for that one.


[Photo} Adam Broderick

Then there’s this guy, who seems to be waving for the photographer to get him off the mountain. It’s as if the last place he wants to be is on a splitboard at 12,500 feet.

Cody Buchholz, not actually wanting to leave

[Photo} Adam Broderick

It took this tester almost fifteen minutes to set up his bindings and touring hardware. Others might think that sounds like a first world problem, but I really felt bad for him.


[Photo} Adam Broderick

Or this…you think he walked away from this?


[Photo] Eric Stoorza

That guy at the bar had no idea what he was talking about. If you agree that the past week must have been rough, wait ’til you read the reviews in the Gear Guide issue that drops in September. Once testers were completely taken care of, they could really focus on riding, raging and giving detailed product feedback. They were critical, to say the least.

And yes, it was hard to see in Wednesday’s heavy snowfall, it was so cramped in the snow-cat you could hardly tighten your boots, and we almost ran out of beer. Almost.

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