While others are cooling their heels in half-empty trade show halls, the Rome Snowboard Syndicate is having a holiday with its customers, employees and partners at the lodge.
In mid-March, the trade fair and novelties hype of the upcoming season 16/17 cooled down a bit, the news are out, the winter finally up and running and the dealers are already pre-ordering for next year. For many of the snowboard industry, the more relaxed part of the winter starts now, holiday feeling is in the air and just at this time we received the invitation from Rome Snowboards to come around for a few days to their Lodge in Bregenzerwald and try the new splitboards.
Welcome to the Syndicate
For the third time in a row the Rome crew takes up quarters for a few weeks at Au-Schoppernau, the hometown of the Vorarlberg snowboarder Gigi Rüf. Not far away from the cablecar station of the ski resort Diedamskopf, the modern equipped Rome Lodge is dressed in the typical local clapboard house style. The house is basically an inhabited Show and Living Room, work and vacation home at the same time, for the guests as well as the hosts and their friends. Speaking of the hosts, excellent work of Philipp and Grady and all the other Rome guys. Every few days a new gang of sales representatives, partners and retailers from all over Europe or media like us. And all want to be entertained with plenty of bacon, schnaps, beer and other delicacies, to treat us with some carefree and exciting days in the mountains.
Speck, liquor and beer have already been mentioned, so that's how we started excellently. The other guests, a dozen roughly, come frome snowboard magazines like Transworld Snowboarding, Onboard, Pleasure or the industry magazine Boardsports Source. Print and online were mixed, as well as the opinions about shrinking markets and budgets. It was agreed however, that it'll be better to slow down the sector and to enhance qualitatively, rather than trying to run after earlier growth rates screaming.
And this is quite the spirit of the Rome Lodge and Rome Syndicate. In the peaceful village of Schoppernau we focus on the essentials, on snowboarding and having a good time together.
The next morning begins with a relaxed and hearty breakfast and soon we are up on the Diedamskopf, thanks to the cableway. Rome has set up a material depot at the station, so that the boards and bindings can be easily tried out on the mountain. We have mounted our splitboards already, the Rome Double Agent and Whiteroom, so we are ready for a few runs on the slopes and a short trip to the park.
Unfortunately the light is getting flat soon and clouds are coming in, so we now miss most of the small gullies and obstacles with which the gentle terrain of the ski area is peppered. We unpack the skins and hike out of the resort to the east up towards Falzer Kopf. Down a somewhat steeper, but short northern slope we ride back to the resort to go to lunch with the others. Sadly we were the only Splitboarders on this session.
At the end of the day there are tortillas, original fajita grilled with much passion, salsa, chips and salads, how well we are doing! First, however, the "official" presentation of the Rome line: Boards, bindings and boots. All about the new Rome splitboard stuff we have you already reported in our First Try article. Unlike dry tradefair halls, of course Rome was there when it comes to a test on Snow.
Thorough and serious examination of the Rome Boots. The Rome Backcountry Boot was already presented by Philipp in our First Try Video. Rome has splitboards, a backcountry boot, what is pending? Anyway, the solid bindings of Rome are well elaborated and leave a good impression.
Grady and Philipp make it pleasantly short with their presentation, too tempting is the smell from the kitchen. Even with the large, yes the complete range of snowboard products Rome is covering, it's apparent how many ideas and work is behind of each of these products and where they originate. Rome has its origins in Vermont and even if the highest mountain there measures just over 1,300 meters, it's considered as the birthplace of snowboarding, because here the first Snow Surfing Championship was held in 1982 and this contest attracted the attention of the mainstream media for the first time. But Vermont is much more snowmobile country and there Rome has its roots too, as we learn at the BBQ .
Random conversations, time for stories, shredding together and sharing personal experiences are the ones that make up such a meeting.
While tomorrow's "resort riders" gather their heads over rad snowboards clips and then turn towards the gambling cards, we still have to do a little map studying to choose a nice splitboard route for the next day.
Toblermanns Kopf 2010m
Theoretically, we could have started directly from the lodge on the cross-country track, but we agreed to meet us at the cottage of Gigi Rüfs uncle and this is located across the valley of our tour destination. So we jump into the car and drive a short distance to the power plant right behind the tunnel east of the village. In a few hairpins on the forest road we overcome the forest scarp and quickly reach the first open area. The meadows begin to become snow free, but on on our way is still enough snow and we are progressing comfortably. On the right the slope rises to the west, and that's where the signpost "Ski touring ascend here" is pointing to, too. At the Gräslalpe we overtake a retiree group taking a break and continue until we have to overcome a steep step to the left. Here, ski touring beginners group is fighting with their first kickturns. Quite a lot going on here, but funny to see and shortly after we reach the Hochalpe pasture.
Along the northern flank we easily continue up to the broad peak of Hochalpe 1911m and follow the ridge towards Toblermanns Kopf. The many other people finish at Hochalpe and so we can still find a nice untracked powder slope on a highly frequented standard tour like this one.
The cost of this pleasure, we have to skin up again to return to the north side of Hochalpe. There we find a few powder turns again, then it gets shredded and like piste. Later, on the funny hilly pastures thers's plenty of space again and Aick misses no hump and no edge to play with the Double Agent. At the bottom, at the short forest road, the snow melts fast and we have to unbuckle once for a short. Quarter to four, so now quickly to the cable car and up on the other side to take the hike to Neuhornbachhaus.
A reward beer, a toast to the cool day and a schnapps of course, unfortunately there's not much time for us now on the Neuhornbachhaus. Our boards have long been loaded onto the material ropeway and a dozen sleds are ready for us. Sledding buzzed through the forest, youth memories are recalling ;-) and that is not enough. To follow the rapid descent we visit a typical Schoppenau farm including stables visit and petting animals. Finest bacon, savory cheese and of course some schnapps, what then results in a group of adult snowboarders with open mouths and wide eyes watching a farmer mucking out. According to the impressive hunting trophies, the senior has poached in Africa and probably brought his weird English from there, too.
Our last evening at Rome Lodge is totally relaxed again. Well feeded, we fall into bed soon after this eventful day. Some have a quite early start tomorrow to be at the airport on time.
Again we enjoy a hearty breakfast and then the ways of our snowboard friends and media colleagues disperse. It has been a nice time, have a good trip and hopefully we see each other again soon!
We, however, we do it again with the splitboards and value our fortune of the short journey home. Despite perfect conditions we choose again just one of the standard tours described as rather easy, simply because the area can be explored easily from here and you can spy ambitious routes for the next visit. Some exciting variations we have already thought, theoretically.
Lug - Annalper Joch 1997m
Practically we decide for the nearest goodies, a steep northern slope down the eastern ridge of Annalper Joch.
Did you find the line? More images, even from this tour are in the gallery at the beginning of this article.
We enjoy the atmosphere at the meantime deserted Lug and then ride down the, of course, totally shredded wide forest aisles. With some good line choice the hilly terrain is still good fun. At the bottom, at the freshly groomed beginners slope, we strongly had to restrain ourselfs not to carve across the slope and on the next morning the beginners would stumble over our frozen marks.
Back at the lodge everything is the same, only the faces are new and are now we also hear French. Immediately we are warmly received by the crowd enjoying the sunset with a beer. The guys need some time to understand that we leave now and that we are not be able to spend a few more great days with them at the lodge. Thanks again to Rome Snowboards for the beautiful days!
The two splitboards, Double Agent and Whiteroom have been under our foot regularly since the 2012 season and were able to witness the continuous development firsthand. Both boards have remained their character over the years, since this winter HotRods (longitudinal Carbon stringers) give the boards more and better defined pop.
Rome Double Agent Splitboard 159cm / Season 2016-17
Rome's freestyle weapon got also readjusted and the HotRods were optimized. Maneuverable, stiff and top on the edges you can use it for fantastic BC Booter-Sessions or just ride it at playful Backcountry runs. It loves spinning around, dropping cliffs and a portion of butter is also welcomed!
Playful with a nearly twin shape design for the freestyle oriented shredder. Behaves surprisingly well in steeper terrain. A slightly longer nose gives you enough Auftrieb in deep pow. You want to spin with this board (I hadn't the feeling with other splitboards before). Hitting jumps is great fun because the board feels quite light and gives you lots of pop. Also nice for resort splitting where you still want to hit the groomers after a few backcountry laps. Flat under the foot, rocker at tip and tail. I had no problem during ascents on the two days of testing but on steeper traverses you might attach your crampons at the right time. Due to the noards profile not the best choice for the big things with long and challenging ascents, like in the Western Alps for example.
Rome Whiteroom Splitboard 162cm / Season 2016-17
The Whiteroom had been slightly adjusted and got even better than it already is. The ascent performance is still very good. Regarding the downhill it got a bit more playful compared to the last year. So it will be able to keep it`s position as one of the best Splitboards on the market.
The more distinct camber at the tail did good to the Whiteroom already this year and further improved the performance upwards- and downwards. The carbon stringers give noticeably more pop and stiffness. If on egoes sporty this shows also positive in the ascent. The edgehold of the Whiteroom is good as usual, which gives you security in the backcountry and fun on the slopes.