Video: Your Venture Starts Here Part III: Silverton, Colorado

Posted: December 16th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Resorts, Videos | Tags: | No Comments »

In my review of the Venture Euphoria, I mentioned my belief that Silverton Mountain is the Galapagos Islands of the snowboard world. The third video in Venture’s series provides further evidence supporting this theory. Check it out…

Video: Your Venture Starts Here

Posted: October 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Videos | Tags: , | No Comments »

We just got word that our friends at Venture are producing a new video series called “Your Venture Starts Here”. It ‘s going to give us a sneak-peek into their alternate universe where snowboards are handmade high in the mountains, Silverton is your local hill, bindings are optional, and Johan Olofsson is your riding buddy. Check out their first episode to see some great shots of Silverton, pow surfing, and their factory…


Review: 2013 Venture Euphoria

Posted: November 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Boards | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

It took one glance at the Venture Euphoria to confirm something I’ve suspected for a while: Silverton Mountain is the Galapagos Islands of the snowboard world, where Venture Snowboards is free to evolve their products without the predatory forces found in the rest of the world. The Euphoria is designed 100% for a single purpose: riding pow. It’s completely free of the normal constraints almost every snowboard must follow. Even the most standard ways to describe a snowboard, things like “sidecut radius”, “taper”, and “running length” simply don’t apply.

Venture Euphoria Pow SurferIt’s clear why Venture calls the Euphoria a “pow surfer”. Not only does it echo a surfboard’s shape, the ride has a float and buoyancy that I’ve never felt on a snowboard before. But don’t let the surfy feel fool you – this board is still a hard charging ride and has more diversity than you might think.

Our thoughts: Last spring, I was lucky enough to take the 2013 Euphoria out for four days of pow surfing at Monashee Powder Cats where I really got a chance to see what this board can do. During my time on the Euphoria, I rocketed down steep open faces, through tight trees, picked my way down a few cliff bands, and more. I even put it through the ultimate powder board test – deep snow and nearly flat slope.

Off the snow, the Euphoria doesn’t look like a nimble ride. But once in powder, it’s amazing at how nimble this board is. The short tail and massively rockered nose stay out of your way in tight trees or steeps, allowing the board to whip around quickly. And if you need to, you can easily shift back on the tail and get almost the entire board out of the snow for quick maneuvering. The Euphoria feels relaxed and natural. It wants to make what seem like big, lazy turns across wide open faces (but in reality it’s deceivingly fast).

There are three unique aspects of the board’s shape that make it such an amazing ride. The first is obvious: the reverse sidecut. This puts the most surface area in the middle of the board so you can center your weight. There’s really not much need to lean back even at slow speeds. It also puts the pivot point at the center of the board. Where a tapered board as a pivot point in the nose, causing the tail to slide out due to uneven pressure, the Euphoria remains equally solid under both feet. As you turn, this makes the edge dig into the snow causing the board to rail where others wash out.

The second is the short swallow tail. I normally thing of short tails and swallows as a way to create float, but with the reverse sidecut, there’s already plenty of float going on. Instead, the little tail lets you get the bulk of the board out of the way when you need quick maneuvering in tight situations or slow speeds. Likewise, when you need fast edge-to-edge changes, the little tail is easy to whip around in scorpion-like turns. Because the tail straightens out, there’s still enough there to keep the ride solid at speed.

And finally, the third aspect of the board’s shape is the long, slow rockered nose. I believe this, more than anything else, is what gives the Euphoria such float. Where most boards’ noses rise over a few inches at the tip, the Euphoria begins rising immediately in front of the binding and continues gradually all the way to the way through. There’s a lot of surface area in the rise, which means there’s more snow pushing up on the board to keep the nose from sinking. Some of my crew were joking that on the Euphoria, there’s so much float that you can’t tell if there’s  3 inches or 3 feet of fresh snow on the ground.

Forget float. The Euphoria basically levitates you down the mountain.

Now, the downside: It’s very clear that this is a purpose specific board. Outside of pow, the ride isn’t so great. The reverse sidecut means the board does not carve on pack at all. I didn’t ride it at a resort, but I did ride several cat tracks where the best I could do was skid from edge to edge. I could control the ride, but it definitely was not fun. Where things get outright nasty is when you blast over a ridge onto an exposed face with a hard crust. With no ability to carve a turn on pack, the situation can turn from euphoric to extremely sketchy in a second.

The question I keep getting asked about this board is if it has any place in a resort. At first glance, you’d think no, but after riding the board for a few days I’m reconsidering. Here in the northwest, we get lots of big heavy spring dumps. There are days at Stevens Pass or Crystal Mountain where it will snow 24″ overnight, but because it’s heavy, many parts of the areas don’t get tracked out. Where others are sucking wind and fighting rear leg burn, the Euphoria would blast you through. Yes, you would have to deal with the sketchy skid across groomers and on and off the lift, but you could get so much more pow for your dollar that it may very well be worth it.

Besides the Euphoria, I’ve riden Venture’s Storm, Zephyr, and Odin. Each of those boards are hard-charging mountain dominators. Because of the surfy feel, the Euphoria feels more graceful than powerful. It’s clearly still a Venture, though. The board survived days worth of getting thrown in and out of the cat and everything else a mountain can throw at it. At the end of the trip, it still looked like it was brand new. This is the result of Venture’s dedication to handcrafted boards made in their factory in Colorado and why they’re able to confidently offer twice the normal industry warranty.

Summary: The Euphoria pretty much ends all debate on what board has the most float. If you end up with a Euphoria in your quiver, you probably won’t use it too much, but the days that you do ride it will be the best riding days of your life.

Sizes and Options: The Euphoria comes in 156, 162, and 168 (I rode the 162 and at 6’1″ couldn’t imagine needing anything longer). Unlike other Venture models, there’s only one width option, 33cm, but given the nature of the board, width really shouldn’t be concern. All sizes are available as either a solid or split. More details on the sizing and specs are available on Venture’s website.

Review: 2011 Venture Storm

Posted: July 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Boards | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments »

“Just point it and go! The worst thing you can do is not commit.” We were lined up, 10 deep, at the top of a cliff band in the BC backcountry as our guide shouted us this sage advice.

Spend enough time in the backcountry and sooner or later, you’re going to find yourself at the top of a big drop. There’s a good chance that “just point it and go” will be your guide’s advice. And they’ll be right: confidence is the key.

Several years ago, I took a tumble off a 25 foot cliff near Crystal Mountain and landed in the hospital with five broken bones. The fall didn’t just end my season, it also did some serious damage to my confidence in just “pointing it”. Since that fall, I’ve had a hard time overcoming my nerves and just committing. But that day was different…

Many boards are fun to ride. Only a rare few make you a better rider. That day in British Columbia, I was on my third day testing the Venture Storm, and as I charged off cliff after cliff on the Storm, I was a different rider.

The 2011 Storm is Venture’s “big lines and burly terrain” board. The directional board has a big, soft, pointed nose designed to absorb whatever comes its way and keep things floating. The board has a moderate 8mm of taper with a 30 mm setback to keep the tail settled and the nose up. Venture’s given the board a very gentle rocker with an early-rise tip and tail. To keep the board edging predictably no matter the condition, Venture uses a triaxial fiberglass patern stiffening the board along the torsional stress lines. Everything is wrapped in Venture’s bomb-proof construction, with p-tex on the sidewalls as well as the base.

Our thoughts: I spent several days riding a 168 Storm in deep Canadian powder with Monashee Powder Cat Skiing in BC. I rode the board in everything from dense trees to open bowls to narrow chutes with conditions varying from bottomless fluff to rock-hard wind and sun crust. As the one-day test quickly turned into three, I did not want to give up this amazing board.

The Storm is like a beautifully handcrafted samurai sword: powerful, precise, graceful, and (at times) dangerous. The big, soft-ish nose easily absorbs any surprises and the stiff, powerful tail grips and cuts through the snow with amazing ease. The board has a very dominant “power center”, where energy transfer and control seem to amplify out from the bindings through the edges of the board. This results in an incredible strong and “in charge” ride. In wide open bowls, the board produces big, strong, dominating carves. In tight trees, the board was amazingly nimble. And in steep chutes, the tip and tail are rockered just enough to get them out of the way when you need to move from edge to edge quickly.

Combining moderate taper and rocker is a very effective way to give the board float without sacrificing performance elsewhere. Even with all of my weight on my front foot, the tip of this board never dove. Not having to shift weight back means not only is there no rear leg burn, you can truly carve the board the way you do on hard pack. At 8 mm of taper, the Storm doesn’t face the tracking issues that more aggressively tapered boards have. And the rocker is subtle enough to give the board the benefits of rocker without making it feel squirrelly and unstable on landings.

It’s easy to focus on rocker and taper when discussing powder boards, but I don’t think that’s where the Storm’s secret powers come from. What makes the Storm such an amazing board, I believe, is its stiff and powerful tail. Where boards like the Burton Fish chop the tail off and taper it heavily to get it out of the way, Venture has taken a different approach. The Storm’s stiff tail is responsible for the board’s powerful feel, stable landings, and nimbleness. The result is simply amazing.

No board is perfect, and there are some areas where the Storm’s strengths become its weaknesses. As with any tapered board, this is a board that does not like to be ridden fakie. Attempts at riding switch were generally rewarded with a prompt and awkward faceplant. The Storm is not a board to ridden casually – the stiff tail demands your attention. If you don’t take control, the board will start making decisions on its own. During my time on the board, I was thrown around a few times for getting lazy and letting the board take over. And while it might be obvious, this is not a board to learn on. Beginning riders should look for something much more forgiving. None of these downsides, in my opinion, is significant enough to be of concern for anyone looking for a hard-charging board to dominate the steep and deep.

A board built for burly terrain needs to be a bit burly itself. This isn’t the lightest board you’ll find. But after three days of intense riding, countless loads and unloads from the back of the cat, and a tree well “incident”,  the demo board looked brand new. Venture backs their boards with a warranty two year warranty – twice the industry norm. Clearly they’re confident in the durability of their craftsmanship.

If the board itself isn’t enough, consider the company that makes it. Venture is a small company based in Silverton, Colorado. At the heart of the company are a husband and wife team – Klemens and Lisa Branner. Send Venture an email and there’s a very good chance that one of them will respond. Where many companies are scaling production up by taking manufacturing overseas, Venture continues to handcraft their boards in Silverton by people who love snowboarding just as much as you do. The company’s focused on renewable and green production, constantly experimenting with materials that reduce their environmental impact without decreasing performance.

Summary: In case you haven’t figured it out, I loved my time on this board. I can’t imagine you can find a better board for tackling big mountain terrain.

Sizes and options: Venture offers the Storm in four widths – 24, 25, 26, and 27 cm, each with 3 to 4 lengths, ranging from 152 to 180 cm. And if that isn’t enough, Venture offers the Storm in both a solid and split version. Check out all of your options at Venture’s Website.

Video: Making some turns on the Storm (it appears 0:05 – 1:10, 3:21 – finish)