In January we reported on a handful of homegrown Colorado ski companies making handcrafted and custom skis that stand up to or surpass anything else on the market. If we'd waited a few weeks, we could have added another local brand to the mix: Silverton-based Venture Snowboards.
For the last few years Venture's entire snowboard line has been available in split-board models to allow snowboarders access to backcountry terrain that had previously been the domain of skiers with telemark or alpine touring gear (at a place like Venture's testing grounds at Silverton Mountain, where one lone chairlift is supplemented by hike-to and helicopter-accessed terrain, that's a must). This season Venture has shaken things up even further with a new prototyping program called the Shape Shack, releasing small-batch editions of experimental designs like the Euphoria, a swallowtail snowboard designed to be "surfed" without bindings. That's the kind of thing a small company can get away with when it's maintaining a nimble manufacturing presence in the United States and not outsourcing everything to China, and Venture has established a reputation as an innovator in the industry. Still, the most recent Shape Shack experiment, known as Sultans, is an interesting twist for a snowboard company.
"Like regular snowboards, but half as wide, and you put one on each foot," boasts Venture's website. "Crazy, we know! We're stoked to share the Venture love with our two planker friends through this super surfy powder shape built and tested right here in Colorado's mighty San Juan Mountains."
The $895 price tag puts the point-of-entry for Venture's new planks slightly above the skis made by Denver-based Grace Skis and Glenwood Springs-based Meier Skis, two of the companies we profiled last month, and well below the cost of custom skis coming out of the Folsom and Wagner shops in Boulder and Telluride. For the money you'll get a couple of very well-made skinny snowboards: Venture has a reputation for making nearly bombproof boards built to bang in rocky, backcountry conditions and shaped to make the most of the epic powder conditions Silverton and the San Juan Mountains are known for (Silverton Mountain is reporting 39 inches of new snow this week).
Here's the full description from Venture Snowboards' page at Shopatron.com:
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Available in two lengths: 175 and 187 cm. They are flat underfoot with gradual, mellow rocker on the tips and tails. Vital specs are 145/120/135. Sidecut radius is 25.4 m on the 175 and 29.8 m on the 187. This is a small batch, late season release and we are only building a handful of pairs so get yours today!