Bank robber Willie Sutton was famously associated with the quote, “That’s where they keep the money” when asked why he robbed banks. In a winter which has offered up extended droughts and marginal conditions to vast areas of North America, the obvious answer as to why Canuck Splitfest is held in Rogers Pass is quite simply “that’s where they keep the snow”. In addition to coming through yet again with very reliable snowfall, the area is home to world famous terrain suitable to shred on in virtually all types of weather patterns and avalanche cycles.
Some of the lower elevations did exhibit a nasty ice crust in the forest, but one didn’t need to climb too high before encountering hazard snow – hazardous because it was the type that offered up second hand white rooms as the cold Selkirk blower lingered in the air. Ullr had delivered the goods and nary a splitboarder could be found without a smile on their faces.
The date was shifted from last year’s inaugural event to avoid industry trade shows and permit better participation from sponsors. The success of the previous event coupled with the improved date led to an immediate influx in sponsors. Virtually every sponsor from last year announced they’d be back on board again, with most of them upping the ante significantly with more donations. In the end, there was over $10,000 in prizes up for grabs in a fundraising raffle for the Canadian Avalanche Foundation.
Many participants chose to arrive early enough on Friday to take in the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival screening. About 70 people enjoyed the screening which was highlighted by “Solitaire”, a film by Sweetgrass Productions which was introduced in person by splitboarder Kyle Miller, one of the athletes featured in it.
Saturday evening’s raffle was once again preceded by presentations. Kyle Miller was a presenter last year, but this time he brought his new film, titled FreeRider, with him for the North American premiere. Whistler based photographer and splitboarder Andrew Strain showed off his Deep Winter entry from the past year. Revelstoke splitboarder Mark Hartley was back by popular demand and did not disappoint with an updated presentation. Mark’s frequent partner, Greg Hill, was up next and he inspired the crowd with the tale of his 2 million foot season, big lines and quite a bit of splitboard footage. Greg even got caught up in the spirit of the weekend and opted to slide sideways down the mountain. According to the rumours, he was actually pretty good at splitboarding!
Participants responded to the huge pool of prizes from the sponsors and by the time the dust settled, over $4,500 in raffle tickets were sold. It was standing room only with well in excess of 100 people crammed into the dining room. Seven people, drawn from the raffle, competed for the grand prizes by way of a timed board to ski to board changeover contest. Coupled with admission charged for Friday night’s film festival and money that Prior Snowboards donated from commemorative Canuck Splitfest soft goods, gross revenue for the weekend was over $5,200
After covering event expenses such as insurance, the film festival fee, and some shipping charges, I’m very proud to announce that we more than doubled last year’s net benefit – $4,368.94 raised for the Canadian Avalanche Centre Fund and $419.22 raised for the Craig Kelly Fund for a grand total of $4,788.16
I would like to thank all those who attended. This event wouldn’t be the success that it is without you. A huge thank you to all of the sponsors who donated product for the raffle, Prior Snowboards for being the presenting sponsor and bringing demo splitboards, and the members of the Parks Canada team who worked behind the scenes to help coordinate this event.
I would also like to express my gratitude to everyone at the Canadian Avalanche Centre and Canadian Avalanche Foundation, including Ken Little, Gordon Ritchie, Ian Tomm and Jennifer George for their assistance with the event, to Mark Hartley, Kyle Miller, Greg Hill and Andrew Strain for their presentations, to Adam Warkentin for the stainless steel keychains, to John Cocci for the projector and A/V assistance, to the staff at the Glacier Park Lodge and to everyone else who helped out.
Should the Mayan calendar be incorrect, we’ll see you all again in 2013…. but just in case, I recommend getting out as often as you can! Keep your skins warm and may all your turns be powder.