words and photos: Mary Walsh with additional images from Blotto

Recently, the Burton crew made the trek to California for the Bear Mountain stop of the Burton Mountain Festival. Myself, I generally stay away from things with “festival” in the title, but this was a welcome exception; glowsticks would be replaced by shredsticks and Skrillex was nowhere in sight. Instead, the line up featured plenty of time taking laps, hanging out with the Burton Girls crew, trying new Burton decks, a stop of the Party in Your Park event series, and enjoying some apres festivities. This was a festival I could get definitely behind. Burton California crew Christine Carelli, Liam Barrett and John Dewey had invited a grip of Southern California women to escape the forever-summer January vibes of Orange County and spend the weekend at Bear and so on Friday afternoon I pointed my Subaru northeast and into the mountains.

In a winter that has been rough on California in terms of snowfall, Bear is in great condition. A combination of Mother Nature’s whims and dedicated snowmaking have given the resort a solid base and more-than-ample park set up. Head of Bear’s park, Clayton Shoemaker and his crew of diggers have outdone themselves yet again by crafting dozens of fun features, including a double backside hip line, large and medium snakeruns, two quarterpipes and plenty of jumps, rails, and varied transition. The park is on point, as always.

Burton riders Enni Rukajarvi, Alex Andrews, and Zak Hale were taking laps and primo photog Blotto had flown in for the weekend. A village of tents had been erected at the base of Bear; the Demo Tour was on hand with a massive selection of boards available for complimentary demos and a Burton Girls-specific tent was set up as well. For women who wanted to try out new gear, but were unsure about what they should ride, Burton team members were on hand to assist with every step of the process to ensure that female constituents strapped into exactly what they wanted. This was yet another step in Burton’s efforts to welcome women further into the world of snowboarding and connect them with others who are like-minded and approachable. In addition to assisting with board selection, Burton’s Cara Williamson and Clarissa Finks as well as Global Team rider, Enni Rukajarvi and legendary snowboarder Shannon Dunn-Downing were on hand for a Burton Girls Ride Day, a continuing, dedicated effort bringing women together to snowboard. A few dozen ladies met up in the festival village for coffee, bagels, and fruit and then hit the hill. The laps were great, but most important was the community that was fostered. A young ripper got to shred with slopestyle master Rukajarvi; women who had never met, got to know one another on the chairlift; smiles and high fives were exchanged and by the end of the afternoon, phone numbers were being shared and riding dates planned. (A few women even needed some extra attention as they learned to make turns and so Burton hooked them up with lessons.) It can be all too rare to snowboard with a bevy of females and these riding get togethers that Burton hosts at each of the stops of the Mountain Festival are valuable for the women’s snowboarding community.

As the sun started to dip below the San Bernadino peaks, apres was enjoyed slopeside and on the infamous Bear Mountain deck. There were plenty more laps to take on Sunday.