Gunnison-based company partners with Romp Skis on flagship deck
Cold Smoke Splitboards of Gunnison, Colo., has released its first factory splitboard, dubbed the "Voodoo." A partnership with renowned boutique ski manufacturer Romp Skis, of Crested Butte, the Voodoo is the flagship deck from a grassroots company that, to date, has specialized exclusively in "custom" splitboards — those that have been crafted into a durable, backcountry rig from their original, solid form.
Likewise, the Voodoo is built to impress. A directional, big-mountain slayer, the Voodoo has been deemed by testers as an "everyday, go-to" and "do-it-all" deck, without sacrificing durability. Unlike many splitboards on the market today, the Voodoo was designed not only for responsive riding — offering fast and agile descents. But also, its design lends itself to superior climbing and traversing. Each board is made by hand with the utmost care and craftsmanship, in Romp Skis' small factory in Crested Butte.
The Voodoo's "camber bubble" — a section of camber placed behind the rider's rear foot — provides traction while skinning and boosts ollie-power with a spring-like effect. This technology from Cold Smoke makes both the uphill and downhill more efficient by minimizing the effort required to climb and by maximizing the amount of "pop" a rider gets out of the board. Carbon stringers in the deck also add pop in the tail section, which boasts 12 cm of rise. Early rise on the nose — slightly wider than the tail — aids in flotation when slicing through powder and crud alike. The Voodoo — "Made in the Elk Mountains of Colorado," as the top sheet indicates — is built of remarkably strong, lightweight, sustainably selected poplar, which withstands pressure and provides better rebound. A black, sintered base is your ticket to one of the strongest, toughest and longest-lasting boards on the market today. This base material will withstand abuse, absorbs wax well and is lightning-fast.
Incredibly strong and impact-resistant polyethylene sidewalls offer flex — even in the coldest conditions, when other materials suffer from a decrease in response time. Each board gets a stone-grind finish — not common with other factory splitboards — increasing speed and performance on the snow. To top it off, Cold Smoke uses an environmentally friendly wax on each deck. And the board's top-sheep graphics are unique — exhibiting a scene of popular peaks up the Slate River Valley, north of Crested Butte, that Cold Smoke's riders are known to frequent.
Cold Smoke formed in a garage in Gunnison in 2010 — shortly after co-owner Kyle Jones graduated from Western State Colorado University. In an entrepreneurship class at Western, the idea for Cold Smoke was born. Jones partnered with longtime friend and fellow Del Norte native Lucas Martinez. Together, the two launched the company — focusing on converting existing, solid decks into splitboards.
Splitboarding — an approach to backcountry snowboarding that utilizes a snowboard which splits into two skis for the climb, and fastens back together for the descent — has been around since the '90s, but its growth in the larger winter sports marketplace has been relatively slow. Only in the last five years has splitboarding grown to the point that numerous manufacturers are now selling products geared specifically toward the pursuit.
Since Cold Smoke's inception, Jones says that he and Martinez have talked continuously about building their own, factory-manufactured splitboard. Those talks came to a head this past year, when Jones and Martinez approached Romp owners Morgan and Caleb Weinberg about helping set up a factory. Instead, the Weinbergs — who began making skis under the Romp name in 2010 — offered to build the decks themselves, taking a cue from other such partnerships. In the wide world of ski and snowboard manufacturers, often companies will share a single factory.
"We definitely saw splitboarding really taking off," says Morgan Weinberg. "But we didn't want to sell snowboards under our brand." Romp has been expanding its production every year, and Weinberg sees the same potential for growth in the backcountry snowboard market. "There's definitely a movement for people to want to buy something a little more personalized and talk to the person who makes it," he says. "Splitboards really lend themselves to the small manufacturer, because it's still a relatively small market."
The Voodoo — retailing for $850 — comes in two lengths: 158 cm and and 163 cm. The waist on both decks is 26 cm, and at 7 pounds, 12 ounces (163), the Voodoo finds itself in the middle of the pack among other factory decks in terms of weight. For more information and to find out how the board can be purchased, visit www.coldsmokesplitboards.com.