Blasting Through the Backcountry with Weston Snowboards, Zeal & Airblaster

Highlights from testing Weston Snowboards on Vail Pass

“Do you even know what we’re doing?”

I blinked slowly and listened, hesitant with a proper response. After a week of covering contest snowboarding at the X Games, straight into tradeshow talking and days of being blinded by new products and fluorescent lights at Outdoor Retailer, I was operating slowly, and honestly didn’t know what I was in for.

I had agreed to come on a trip with Weston Snowboards, Zeal Optics and Airblaster, and despite the numerous emails outlining plans and objectives for the trip (thanks, Alex) I was a bit green as to what to fully expect. Regardless, I was amped for whatever was to come throughout the weekend press trip.

Fresh Weston Boards, ready to rip. Photo: Dag Larson

Photographer, Dag Larson, and I arrived at a nice multi-level condo in Minturn, CO, around 10 PM last Friday, (a few hours later than the others), and were treated to huge slices of gooey pizza, suds from Crazy Mountain Brewery, and outfitted with spankin’ new merino wool Ninja Suits.

We immediately met the crew, which consisted of Weston’s Leo Tsuo, Sean Eno, Mike Page, and Guide Justin Ibarra, along with Mike Lewis from Zeal, other team riders, and a series of media from different gear-related outlets. The vibe was incredibly laid-back, and a refreshing switch from the sales-y tradeshow we all had endured the days before.

Setting up the splitties. Photo: Dag

Upon meeting everyone, we were briefed on the day ahead, and talked avalanche conditions and outlined the plan.

From there we gathered our goods and headed to another condo to settle into slumber before the big day.

We awoke to alarms beeping around 6 a.m., wiped sleep from our eyes, pulled on our Ninja Suits and headed to Weston’s headquarters in Minturn, Colorado. The shop was stacked wall to wall with decks, and equipment to tune boards. We were all told to pick out a solid and splitboard of our choice to mount up and shred for the day.

The Weston rig, a beefy all-terrain monster. Photo: Dag

I chose the all-new women’s Rise split, along with its solid counterpart. Constructed with a Freedom Wood Core, a directional twin shape, Multi Radial Twin Camber, Carbon in the tip and tail, a sintered base, and double edged sidecut, I knew I was in for a treat.

Each of us teched our decks, while munching on breakfast burritos and enjoying steaming cups of coffee. We selected new Zeal goggles and glasses and looked forward to testing them in the bright, bluebird Colorado day.

With everyone suited up and ready, we loaded up the Weston vans, and trucks and followed the snow cats and snowmobiles up the winding road to the Camp Hale trailhead.

Quickly, things were unloaded, and we divided into our groups. We did beacon tests and confirmed we were all set to go, before loading up the Tucker Sno Cats, then lurched off, towards the summit of Vail Pass.

Here kitty, kitty… Photo: Dag

Once in the cats, conversations ranged from the latest industry gossip, to tech talk and beyond. Connected through our mutual love for snowboarding, an easy bond was created seamlessly among the slew of like-minded strangers.

As the cat crawled on, mountain scenery whooshed by, and quickly we reached the summit, and high-fived in eager anticipation of the fresh lines that awaited.

A grip of new Weston boards, ready to be ripped. Photo: Dag

We strapped into the new decks and party-lapped, safe, low-angle pow for several runs to get a feel for the boards. Hoots and hollers filled the sky as we maneuvered our boards over the powder, hovering along, whipping turns with minimal effort through the deep fluff.

White room ready. Photo: Dag

On our second or maybe third lap, our crew split off into a zone known as Cupcake Land. It featured a fresh slate of pillows, that were primed to pop. We cautiously sent each little puff and helped each other spot the landings.

Tyler Macleod lapping up frosting in Cupcake Land. Photo: Jacob McEachern

Smiles were contagious and the fresh mountain air elevated the sense of stoke. Weston Snowboards truly is a family brand, built to connect riders steeped with passion for the mountains and deep snow.

Just the tip, or tail. Photo: Dag

Sometime around mid-day, we broke for lunch, and enjoy huge sandwiches, along with hoppy IPA’s from Crazy Mountain.  Everyone reveled in the easy sense of the day and the subtle simplicity of being in the backcountry.

Backcountry bliss. Photo: Dag

From there, we loaded up the cats once more, and enjoyed a hit or two of Colorado’s finest greenery (thanks, Brooke), before breaking off into splitboard and cat lap groups.

Spankin’ new Zeal goggles. Photo: Dag

On the split side of things, we toured towards the stunning Fowler-Hilliard Hut, one of the newest and most modern of Colorado’s 10th Mountain Division huts. Just above it, our guide, Justin Ibarra, suggested a line that was pristine and filled with tons of powdery bliss.

Going up, on a Saturday. Photo: Jacob

We transitioned our decks and dropped into the beautiful zone, just as the alpenglow started to fade. Surely some of the best turns of the day, a sense of being in the right place at the right time, pervaded. Our Ninja Suits kept us warm and wicked away sweat on the way up and down, while our Zeal glasses and goggles protected our eyes while we slayed pow. The Weston boards of course, were our vehicles to pillage pow, and easily switched into overdrive as needed.

Wind-scoured at the top, but bottomless down below. Photo: Jacob

From there we took turns rallying on snowmobiles and perfecting split-skiing skills, and all reveled in the awesomeness of the day.

Upon our return to the trailhead, the sun set just as we loaded up the trucks and headed off, back down to Minturn.

Gear Patrol’s Ali Carr in from the NYC and feeling right at home in the BC. Photo: Dag

We unloaded the gear, changed out of our Ninja Suits and went for dinner at the famed Minturn Saloon. We enjoyed a delicious, yet curious meal. Founded in 1901, this gem of the Vail Valley is littered with memorabilia, old signs and taxidermy on the walls. We were treated to appetizers of quail, duck breast, and chips, guac and cheese, before the main entrees of Colorado/TexMex filled the table.

With belly’s stuffed and legs sore, we retired back to our condos, with a new mindset and appreciation for not only snowboarding, but for Weston Snowboards, Zeal Optics and Airblaster.

These brands’ quality constructed products work as they should, and are represented by people who are focused on the true pillars of snowboarding. No gimmicks or false marketing gobbledygook, these products are built for genuine snowboarders.

Solid crew! Photo: Dag

Thanks to Weston for having us out for a memorable trip. We may not have known what we were in for, but we left the weekend we a refreshed mindset on what makes up a revered snowboard company. We look forward to ripping around on more decks, and providing proper reviews of their boards soon.

Also big ups to Zeal and Airblaster for keeping our eyes safe, and our bodies in ninja mode. Until the next…

Stoked on these boards and all these people. What a time. Cheers! Photo: Dag

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