Four full days of gear demos, organized skiing, panels and après events[ By Katherine Nettles ]
For a ski town that appreciates geeking out on gear, a good party and getting outside, the third annual Blister Summit event in Mt. Crested Butte from February 12-16 is looking robust. The summit is not just another demo event with ski techs and screwdrivers, with numerous social and educational events now built in. But with close to 40 companies representing their gear and apparel and the addition of snowboarding and splitboarding gear this year, it might be the best demo event around.
The summit events will take place at the Elevation Hotel and Spa at the base area of Crested Butte Mountain Resort beginning with an evening reception on Sunday, February 12 and running through Thursday, February 16. Each day there will be gear and apparel demos, resort ski meetups and backcountry ski tours. The daytime activities will be followed by a catered après event and nightly panel session with gear giveaways and pro athletes, industry leaders and Blister reviewers talking shop on a range of different topics. There will also be restorative yoga sessions to keep participants limber in between their on-mountain adventures.
Everything except backcountry tours with Irwin (a $50 add-on fee) are included in registration, and Blister is offering 50% discounts to any residents of the Gunnison Valley to show appreciation for the company’s home base and to make it easier for locals to come and go as their schedules allow.
Blister organizers are predicting a larger group of both brand reps and participants this year, with 37 brands confirmed in late January and between 150 to 200 participants expected. “And we are still actively adding brands, so we may have more before the summit starts,” says Blister Summit director Kristin Sinnott.
Sinnott says the event has evolved since it began in 2021, coming back each year with more educational, social and generally interactive opportunities for its attendees.
“The first year we couldn’t have a welcome reception [due to COVID], and people wanted that,” said Sinnott. “But there was so much good energy, people were so happy to be there. It became super social, which was amazing. Even our Blister reviewers said it was their favorite event of the year.”
The summit has appealed to a wide audience from the beginning with people travelling from throughout the U.S. and internationally to take part. But Sinnott says this year will be the biggest event yet, as organizers have added new elements based on feedback from both attendees and vendors.
“So it isn’t just ‘here is some equipment, go have a good time,’” says Sinnott. “It’s educational and community building too.”
All the brands will be bringing alpine touring (AT) gear, and Sinnott says the reps, reviewers and pro athletes like Chris Davenport, Wendy Fisher and Eric Hjorleifson will join participants in the backcountry, morning uphill sessions or on the lifts, “just plugging in wherever they want.
“Conditions permitting we’re going to have uphill access every morning on the 14th, 15th and 16th, with a meet up at 7 a.m. at the base of Red Lady lift,” says Sinnott.
“A lot of attendees who come have never done uphill access, so this is giving them the opportunity in a familiar resort setting where vendors can show them how to use the equipment, and how to get it on and off,” she explains.
From there, demo gear and apparel will be available all day for participants to test out at the ski area.
Blister has partnered with Irwin Guides as well to offer morning and afternoon backcountry sessions, also organized for all levels from beginners to pros.
“A lot of participants came from back East last year, and they wanted to know more about how to access the backcountry,” says Sinnott. “For these tours, they pay a little bit extra just to make sure they show up. We will have avalanche gear for people to rent and demo. We will separate people into groups, such as if you’re from sea level and you want an intro, or a quick run, etc. versus people with more experience and time. There will be three-hour tours and half days.”
Sinnott said locals generally make up about 30% of the participants, and they want to encourage as many locals to join in as possible. Blister Review, a gear review company, started in Santa Fe and moved its headquarters to Mt. CB in 2018.
“It is the homebase for Blister, so being able to actually give back to the community is important to us,” says Sinnott. “We love CB, and we love the mountain, and we talk about it so much in all our reviews. We want to show our readers what we talk about so much.
“And we also want locals to be able to participate in this. It can be hard because people can’t always have that much time off. With the discounts we are offering, you could go to work all day, and just come to the panels and get free drinks and food, etc. Or even just demo gear for an hour or two on your lunch breaks.”
Sinnott says there are also opportunities for locals who want to participate by volunteering.
With the plentiful snow coverage almost everywhere, there should be a range of ways and open terrain to test out gear.
“And CBMR—when it’s good, its good,” Sinnot concludes.
Registration can be found at blisterreview.com and the 50% discount code for Gunnison Valley residents is BlisterSummit:Local50.