High Gear review: Big Chief splitboard from Weston Snowboards
On The Hill correspondent
Big Chief | $899
Sizes: 157 cm, 164 cm, 168 cm
Shape: Stiff traditional camber (camber between inserts, rocker from inserts to nose and tail)
Core: Poplar, paulownia, bamboo
Base: P-tex 4000 Electra
Sidewall: UHMW radial
Contact length: 115 cm, 121 cm, 124 cm
Effective edge: 119 cm, 125 cm, 128 cm
Features: 25 mm full-length carbon inserts, directional inserts for convertible splitboard bindings, stainless steel clips
Touring skins are sold separately. For more info on the Big Chief and all Weston models, see the manufacturer’s website at westonsnowboards.com.
“I am the Big Chief: ruler of the nation and whole wide creation.”
The Big Chief is an all-out powder machine. There’s no tomahawking the 2016-17 Big Chief, a reimagined model from Weston Snowboards that possesses the strength of an entire backcountry tribe born in Minturn, where the lion of Lionshead Rock meets the mighty Eagle River. This board has been my salvation.
Steeped in the history of the area and true to local tradition, the Weston Big Chief is a traditional-camber snowboard that comes in solid and splitboard forms. Both models are wider underfoot than average boards and have a long effective edge. When coupled with a directional stance, this makes for effortless float on deep days.
In the backcountry and high alpine, it eats up steeps and lands big drops without batting an eyelash or bucking the rider. It’s incredibly stable at speed, moves edge to edge nicely with more torsional flex than expected and has no problem going left, right and sometimes upside down. This board is a big gun for big powder days. It’s stiff, durable and strong to provide float when pointing it down fall lines, but it’s also maneuverable enough to ride trees. The big, round nose is made for bashing through the deep stuff or ollie-ing over everything without sinking.
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Goes both ways
In solid or split form the board just wants to rip. It is the right kit for big, steep and open — a big-mountain monster with crazy strength and a playful side. You can do a trick off a 30-foot cliff on this one and maybe even land it.
Such as Sleeping Indian Mountain outside of Leadville, it is awe inspiring in its quiet yet powerful nature, floating above all at times and firmly rooted at others. The word “soaring” comes to mind when riding on the Big Chief. It is my favorite board in the Weston 2016-17 line, and I can say with conviction that I have landed the biggest log and the biggest cliff backflip of my life on this board.
The Big Chief eats first — all others are second.
Z Griff is the winter host of On The Hill at summitdaily.com and is also a Weston team rider.