Every spring bands of snowboarders converge on a tiny Rocky Mountain town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains to explore the backcountry opportunities that abound. But they’re not you typical snowboarders. They’re split boarders.
It’s called splitboarding: a genre of snowboarding that relies on boards that split in two to be used as skis to climb mountains. Once in top the boards unites, and the riders drop in to surf the snow back down, often heading right back up. It’s self sufficient backcountry snowboarding laced with mountain savvy and true grit.
It’s less about style and more about passion. At the Silverton Split Fest, campers and tents line the grounds of the Community Recreation Center – festival headquarters. Clothes hang out to dry. Boards and gear lean on cars. Naps are taken in the sun. The mountains shroud the town
It’s grown so much that splitboard equipment manufacturers have taken queue.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get out on the gear,” said Lisa Branner, co-founder of Venture Snowboards and host of the event over four days in April. “Test out some different models and some different sizes from a variety of different manufacturers to find what works for them, and it just builds a lot of stoke.”
Venture Snowboards call Silverton home, and for good reason, the oceans of mountains and bottomless snows surrounding the town. Still, they reach out to splitboarding brands all over the Rockies.
“It’s a cool group of people that love being in the outdoors,” said Adam Browning of Oz Snowboards.
And it’s just as much about the snow as it is sharing the love for a way to enjoy the mountains.
“The while idea is to come together as a community,” Branner said. “Learn about backcountry safety, sharpen our skills as far as backcountry touring and awareness and of course just celebrate out in nature.