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Mt. Baker Splitfest 3/23 – 3/25

05/04/2012

By: Dave Wray
SIA
May 4, 2012

The sideways backcountry revolution is having another breakout and it’s all the rage, especially as we enter the spring touring season.  The term splitboarding is thrown around in lift lines and lodges all across the globe these days and the marketplace is packed with lots to choose from with a host of board, binding and even boot choices.  Next year you’ll see women’s specific splits in the shops as well.  You can probably thank Jeremy Jones for the current revival in the split scene as his first movie Deeper really helped to open the eyes of many.  Now the marketplace is really maturing for this category while these sideways people are finding their way into the skin tracks and stashes that have typically been owned by their AT and Tele friends.

For the second year in a row Mount Baker was host to a splitboarding demo/festival/party for consumers.  When I say Mount Baker, that’s where the touring took place.  The actual demo was run out of the parking lot, bar and pool tables at the Chair 9 restaurant in the town of Glacier.  About 150 – 200 people cycled through the scene over the course of the weekend and the good people from Jones, Arbor, Voile, G3, Karakoram, Prior, Venture, K2 and Mervin turned screws, trimmed skins and stoked people out long into the night on Saturday.  Conditions were pretty much ideal with Mount Baker getting 260” in the month of March and now blue bird conditions prevailed for the weekend.

The good news for retailers is that this category can be sold at or close to full price long after the peak holiday season as the best touring really doesn’t start to happen until mid-winter to spring.  This should even help the early season sales for splitboards and backcountry accessories for next season, because sometimes Mother Nature shows up ahead of schedule and delivers the goods before the ski areas are even open.  This past season the Northwest was fortunate enough to be blessed with another La Nina.  That’s fine, but let’s hope Mother Nature spreads her love around a bit more next season.