Main Image: Seth Langbauer

The 2018 Bozeman Splitfest

Words: Dan Ventura, Spark R&D


It’s early March in Bozeman, Montana. I’m standing on the back porch of Map Brewing Co. which faces east offering up majestic afternoon views of the Bridger Mountains. The east aspect also means it’s shaded and under normal March conditions it might be a little chilly, but on this afternoon, I’m surprised with how mild it is. The sun is shining and there is barely a breath of wind - a good sign for an outdoor demo.

Industry friends from across the country begin to roll in. Some are just arriving in town, some got here the day before and spent the day exploring in the mountains. High-fives and hugs are exchanged, and the tents quickly go up filling the entire bricked patio. A small fire is lit and people begin to show up for the second annual Bozeman Splitfest.

Splitfests are great for so many reasons. Some people come because they’re beginners and the events are an easy way to learn about gear and take a clinic, some come because they love trying new gear and are thinking about an upgrade, others are there strictly for the camaraderie. They just want to meet other splitboarders and talk splitboarding!

The demo went into the evening and just as it was beginning to get noticeably cooler outside, most participants headed inside to check out the presentation given by Andrea of the White Heat Project in the brewery. And when I say 'in the brewery', I mean the presentation was in the actual fermentation room where the beer is brewed. Think thirty-foot-high stainless steel fermentation tanks - it was a really unique place to take in a presentation!

On Saturday everyone split into groups and hit the skin track (no pun intended). There were two separate groups of beginners who were out learning the ropes – from kick turns and basic route selection to smooth transitions and proper skin storage. They toured in some of the more mellow terrain in our area, perfect for learning and practicing. 

There was also an advanced group out in Hyalite Canyon ‘learning the ropes’. But this group of ten more experienced riders were actually learning to use ropes while splitboarding. They were practicing belays, building anchors, and tying knots, then discussing how to apply these new skills to access more technical terrain.

Photos: Seth Langbauer Photography & Zach Bailey

Those that didn't take part in one of the clinics were still out getting after it. There were splitboarders everywhere from the Northern Bridgers to Beehive Basin in the Madison Range. 

Photos: Ryan Irvin/Venture & Spark R&D

Back at Map Brewing on Saturday night, it was a lot of fun to hear all the stories from the day. The folks in the clinics were jazzed to share what they had learned and those that had gone out in small groups on their own had some sweet photos from their adventures.

That night, as is customary at splitboard events, we had an epic raffle. Boards, bindings, backpacks, outerwear, all sorts of awesome gear from the sponsors found its way into the hands of the stoked winners. The raffle, and really the entire event, was a fundraiser for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. This year we raised just shy of $2,400!

On Sunday we had some real winter weather move into the area. Of course, that wasn't enough to deter most folks from getting out. A small group of shredders, including Spark R&D's Will Ritter, hit up History Rock in Hyalite Canyon for a split mission. Here is what Will had to say about the day:

"I really had a great time with the splitfesters up at History Rock on Sunday! There were six of us in the group ranging in experience from three days to 13 years of splitboarding. As a group, we did two laps totaling about 2000 feet. I was impressed by everyone, especially Sarah and Rochelle as the newest to the sport doing that much climbing. Rochelle and Calvin get bonus points for coming from Duluth MN which sits at a lofty elevation of 702 feet. Calvin is the nicest brother I've seen in the backcountry, he shredded with Rochelle's solid poles so she wouldn't have to. Attitudes were top notch the whole time, even when I took us for an accidental slog through the woods connecting the two powder fields! "

The Bozeman Splitfest was a huge success this year. Many thanks to Map Brewing for hosting us, all of the sponsors, and Ryan Frank and Zach Bailey for organizing. It was great to see so many people come out for the event. We are already looking forward to next year!

You can find more information on the Bozeman splitfest by checking out the website --> , or by following one of their social channels --> Instagram & Facebook