Here follow some personal memories on the subject of splitfest#16.
Our hobby of going about and down through snow can easily be seen as a diamond. Like a diamond, it can show you a lot of different sides. Most of them glittering gorgeously beautiful. But some of them can be muddy or even bloody. And that's what 'splitfest' was. A lot of work in muddy places, sweat and sleepless nights beforehand for a handfull of people. And when that was mostly done: Splitfest itself! The actual mining of splitboard- and skinning- diamonds.
A busload of enthousiast Dutchies and Belgians travelling through the night to a top secret Swiss Kurhaus hidden someplace 'inneralpine'. On a dark German road with the simple intention of mining a lot of diamonds. After two busses, a pickup truck loaded to the brim with champagne and a hearty and social Kurhaus-breakfast, the mining could begin. Different groups were formed and the local ski area, somewhere in Switzerlands Unterengadin was discovered.
A number of groups came along nicely and decided to go for the big one and do a 'backside' descent which, after a lot of footwork, lead them back to the Kuhrhaus a few hours later. One of the gems that was mined consisted of a cold and well-earned beer in a former Swiss customs-guest house. A final hour of headlight-litt bushwacking across icy slopes later, the dinner at the Kurhaus didn't stand a chance and everybody needed two or even three full servings after a long day in the bluebird diamond-industry. The results, as discussed in the champagne-lounge after dinner, where worth a few trophy's. And therefore, trophy's were awarded by the panel of present guides. The most noteworthy prize of the day was probably @sportgillie 's 'best-bend-boss' cornering award.
On the second day, the game was on and the different groups wanted more splitting and skinning in their splitfest. @thomas and the Kurhaus-extraordinare-crew arranged a bus-tour to a small skiing area on the Italian side of the border. Most of the groups, inspired by their helvetic-maps splitted and skinned their way up towards the actual border. Although conditions were tricky and challenging, the results where brilliant: After a day of walking uphill, some awesome sunset-sprays were ploughed through still present powder pockets downhill.
In the meantime, 'the organisation' tried to work their way around the backside of the small Italian ski-area and found a lot of clear and not so silent hints (whoompf! sounds) on instability in the snowpack, that they opted to pick a safe way back: A nice walk over barren ridges. Safety first! The guided group on this side of the valley found comparable challenges and made it back safely as well. Meanwhile, at the ski area's sickbay/command-/first-aid-/apres-ski-centre, the first 'Bombardino's' where ordered while the local avy-/first-aid dog Duffel was sent out with one of the more experienced splitboard groups ([see @Willem2k 's film below]).
All in all, it was another great day with plenty of personal diamonds mined in bluebird sprays or hops that needed some discussion on the side of a nice movie in the champagne-lounge. Turns were earned and more awards were awarded.
Having worked around a challenging bad layer deep within the snowpack on the first two days, another challenge arrived on day three: Freshies full of faceshots. Some 60 cm's of fresh snow a good hour north of our top-secret location. It was raining on the way over there, but once the homemade snowsurfers had been unpacked from the bus at the large Austrian resort, it was time to release them into their natural environment.
A day of ploughing through knee-(nipple- for the telemarkers)deep powder and heavier snow during the second half of the day later, the conclusions were quite simple: 'Faceshots!', 'cool!' and 'ge-wel-dig' spiced up with jealousy. Diamonds all around. Following this day of playing outside in the kindergarten, the temperature unfortunately took a hike and left us with more than five degrees centigrade in our inneralpine Kurhaus the next day.
Some groups took it to another Swiss resort that still had fine slopes. Others decided to try some new diamond mining techniques under a regime of boundary conditions such as spring conditions, treacherous avy conditions due to the warmth and an undiscovered valley on a bluebird day. The result? Try imagining the combination of a nice champagne-lunch with the short film below :) And spice that up with a group of wild Ibex, some more obligatory bushwacking and Heidi's grandfather who fired up his generator for some extra teawater.
In the meanwhile, everybody was making plans for a final day of splitting, skinning and playing around. Looking back at five days of adventure under challenging conditions, I really don't think we could have mined more fun and earned more gorgeous descents in better conditions anywhere in the alps. And therefore, I see @iesm 's splitfest as more then a long weekend off. I see it as a succesfull diamond-mining-company.