Snowboard Saga Chapter 6: Frozen, Frigid, and Frothing

By Alex Andrews, FOW

Uinta Range, UT. FOW: Nick Russell and Alex Andrews // Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)

The heat of summer is upon us and we are fired up to let you know that production is in full swing of our first ever splitboards and solids here in SLC, UT.

As I write this, heat stroke has fully set in, but reminiscing about the coldest night I've ever spent in a tent is giving me shivers. -22 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Brutally cold, but worth it. 

This night was spent alongside Nick Russell, Pep Fujas, Sean Black, and Fred Norquist, willing our weary bodies to sleep. Deep in Utah’s Uinta Range, we had embarked on one final outing to document and finalize our first split and solid snowboard shapes.

After a quick skin cutting session in SLC, we were on our way. FOW: Nick Russell // Photo: Alex Andrews (@therealfrothpuppy)

Up to this point, Utah was having one of its driest seasons to date with a persistent weak layer that wouldn’t go away. When April pulled through it landed the state with some incredible storms. We knew we’d have to seize the opportunity to film and showcase our snowboards for launch. Both Nick and I hadn’t linked up during the season much and really wanted to ride and test our new 159 splitboards together in the most present conditions. The best way to do that was to spend a couple cold nights camping in the high alpine. Never one to turn down a bit of suffering, Nick joined us in Utah and we set out for our two night adventure.

Uinta Range, UT. FOW: Alex Andrews // Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)

The first day started in the dark of the early morning - windy, cold, and snowing heavily with limited visibility. We spent our time in the trees for protection riding some mellow, but fun terrain. It was Nick's first time in the area and I was excited to show him some of the lines I had in mind, but due to visibility we couldn’t see anything more than 40 yards away. I could tell Nick was questioning if these high alpine hogs were even real. He had every right to think this way, since at the moment, they certainly appeared to be fictional. That evening was spent securing our tents and gear from blowing away amidst the most cold and harsh conditions I’ve ever experienced. 

After a freezing, sleepless night we were greeted by blue skies and a fresh layer of wind buffed powder on day two. At last, Nick was able to see the ridges, peaks, and lines I had excitedly ranted about the day prior. 

In the morning, we had a quick breakfast and gear sorting session for the long day, and then set out to tackle as much terrain as possible. I’ve toured with Nick a few times prior and I knew what I was in for. He is a mountain goat with endless energy, and it's just a matter of maintaining efficiency and digging into your core endurance as you attempt to keep yourself from slowing him down. 

With it being late spring we were stoked to get a mixed bag of conditions. Sure, bottomless pow is great and all, but we were here to put some nearly finished boards through the wringer! The first line we rode was 6-8 inches of packed powder followed by a wind-scoured apron that tested our riding skills and reaction speed. The boards felt amazing in both conditions, and proved to handle the variability in conditions exactly as intended. The refinements we had made to the core profile (an increase in thickness of the core at the waist to help the split mimic the ride of the solid) did exactly what we wanted, pairing perfectly with the stability-enhancing characteristics of the AlgalTech construction. At the bottom, we simply couldn’t stop grinning. 

Uinta Range, UT. FOW: Nick Russell & Alex Andrews // Photo: Pep Fujas (@pepfujas)

For the rest of the day, we toured and booted a number of other lines. The snow was gradually heating up throughout the day, so when we wrapped up with a south-facing couloir, we were greeted with a perfect 3 inch corn layer. Our final pre-production board proved to manage riding the tight lane of the couloir with ease and confidence. Both Nick and I were so stoked, having finally made a prototype that did it all for what we designed and wanted in an all mountain freeride board. Back at camp, we were rewarded with a warm fire, simple meals, and undistracted conversation about how the boards performed throughout the day. The camp banter, and sunset were all time. It truly was a moment where everything falls into perspective and one feels enormous satisfaction and gratitude for a job well done. At the end of the day, it was all worth it. 

Uinta Range, UT. FOW: Nick Russell and Fred Norquist // Photo: Alex Andrews (@therealfrothpuppy)

Night 2 allowed much more pleasant sleep, and still tired from the long day touring, we awoke to the third day amidst much warmer temps. Nick was on a tight schedule to make his way to Alaska for the foreseeable future with a flight out of SLC that afternoon. A quick cup of coffee and we were off to hustle a few early morning laps on a pitch right out of our campsite. Fast and fun laps in the deteriorating pow before the warm spell set in. At this point we had settled into our campsite, the surrounding terrain, and the pure simplicity of our days, so the feeling of leaving this magical place was expectedly bittersweet. We packed up camp, traveled back to the big city, and got Nick to his flight successfully for his big Alaskan adventure.

As we said our goodbyes at the airport, I was once again filled with the same immense feeling of gratitude and satisfaction with our progress that I experienced out in the backcountry. After more than a season of testing, both Nick and I were 100% stoked on the finalized boards, just in time for Nick’s upcoming mission where he’d be able to ride them on the most exposed, steep, and frothy terrain this planet has to offer.

If you’ve been following along this last season, we thank you for your time, and are stoked to tell you that the wait will soon be over. Cheers - we hope to see you at the trailhead this next season.

Alex Andrews, FOW

Uinta Range, UT. FOW: Nick Russell // Photo: Alex Andrews (@therealfrothpuppy)

Our production boards will be revealed to the public on July 11th! Stay updated on snowboard news below.