Photo courtesy of Cory Smith/Venture Snowboards
Skylar Holgate removing the skins from his splitboard before descending Kendall Mountain.
Local and visiting splitboarders will gather in Silverton from March 29 to April 1 for the first Silverton Splitfest to demo the latest gear, listen to presentations, exchange splitboarding lore, and splitboard in the surrounding backcountry of the San Juan mountains.
Splitboards are specialized snowboards that can be converted into two touring skis for an ascent, then back into a snowboard for the descent.
Event organizer Jason Bushey said the Silverton Splitfest is modeled after similar events across the country, like the Mt. Baker Splitfest in Washington and the Canuck Splitfest at Rogers Pass, British Columbia.
“Each one focuses on supporting the avalanche centers in that area, so all the proceeds of our event will go to the CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center),” Bushey said. “These events have been picking up a lot of steam as splitboarding’s become more popular, so we figured Silverton was a good place for one because everyone talks about Silverton about being this Mecca for backcountry skiing; we’re a little spoiled because we get to ride here all the time.”
Silverton-based Venture Snowboards, which has been manufacturing splitboards since 2006, is helping organize the Splitfest.
“We want to support anything that brings the splitboarding community together and increases awareness of the sport, and so have been sponsoring similar events all over the country for the past few seasons,” said Venture co-owner Lisa Branner. “Given our focus on backcountry riding and the fact that this event is taking place in our own backyard, it was a no-brainer for us to get involved as the presenting sponsor.”
Branner added that an event like the Splitfest can have a positive impact on Silverton.
“From an economic standpoint, the most obvious benefit is dollars spent on food and lodging,” Banner said. “But the added bonus is that it will help build awareness of what Silverton and San Juan County have to offer. This is exactly the type of audience that can appreciate the nearly limitless backcountry terrain options here and are the kind of people who also get what Silverton Mountain is all about.”
Venture will be offering a factory tour and sponsoring a slideshow presentation by Silverton local Jarrett Luttrell – the first snowboarder to ride all of Colorado’s 14ers.
Event registrants will also be able to demo the latest in splitboard technology. Participants will have the opportunity to go splitboarding on Friday, Saturday and Sunday on their own, with a short presentation from Silverton Avalanche School each day on area avalanche conditions.
Bushey said he hopes to see a good turnout at the Splitfest, which is to become an annual event.
“We have people coming from the Front Range, Wyoming, New Mexico,” Bushey said. “The community is growing so much that having a collective come together to share experiences and see new gear is huge.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/SilvertonSplitfest.