At five in the afternoon the first guests began to walk through the front door of the Backyard, a homely haven for die-hard backcountry snowboarders and freeskiers, located high above the small town of Hippach in the Zillertal. By seven all of the guests had arrived and the Backyard’s ultra-cosy Stuben was buzzing with the hum of chit-chat and expectation. Wannabe ski and snowboard shapers had travelled to this little gathering, organised by ski and snowboard brand Amplid, from throughout the northern Alps. While hosts Chris and Juergen set to work making and baking delicious handmade pizzas from a single oven like a well-oiled production line, Amplid’s Peter Bauer and Barcelona based wooden surfboard crafter Mirko Straenger busied themselves inspiring the crowd with a small presentation and discussion about the art and science of shaping. The beer flowed late into the evening but the early wake-up and requirement of a clear head for the following day meant the schnapps remained untouched.
The next morning a hearty Backyard breakfast cleared the morning mist for the previous night’s beer drinkers and fuelled-up the budding craftsmen for a day in the workshop. During the previous evening, the group had agreed to split into two smaller shaping posses, by the morning the arrangements had been forgotten and the morning session had a larger than expected turn-out. This winter’s weather has been a little unpredictable and although blazing sun and 10 degrees centigrade at 1400m in January might be counterproductive for good riding conditions, the warm weather was perfect for being outside for long stints of shaping. Pin and swallow tails, pointy and blunt noses, reverse and conventional sidecuts; the crew of shapers pulled together a series of designs applying a breadth of contemporary and retro features and got to work shaping them. By lunch the workshop was in full-flow, resembling more the construction site of Dubai’s next record-breaking skyscraper than a chocolate-box Zillertal farmhouse. From belt sanders to circular saws, the potential for finger removal was high; luckily master-craftsman Mirko was on-hand to help those intimidated by the power tools and impart some tips for next level wood-work. In total the shaping session spanned from nine in the morning until nine at night, the perfectionists of the group were sanding-out every bump and imperfection until hours after sunset. The finished blanks were varnished using a special “Bauer-own” lacquer recipe and left to dry overnight. While the varnish cured the legendary Backyard hot-tub was fired-up, Juergen and Chris laid-on a traditional Argentinian Asado with some of the tastiest meat known to humanity and an assortment of liver-pickling schnapps was unleashed on the unsuspecting guests.
A small snowfall had arrived overnight and the Backyard’s surroundings were covered in a thin but motivating blanket of whiteness by the time the shapers had risen from their slumber on Sunday morning. Unfortunately whiteout conditions and limited snowfall in the Zillertal forced the group to abandon the valley for the day of riding: Half of the group headed north, via Kufstein’s now permanent and unavoidable traffic jam, to Peter’s local resort Spitzingsee, where the snowfall had been a little more bountiful. Those that had travelled from further afield got on the road to get a head start on the predictable Sunday afternoon ski traffic. Reports from the Spitzingsee crew were of insane floatation on their freshly prepared guns and of huge smiles all-round.
So that’s how the weekend went down. It’s incredible how much comradery and stoke can be generated by sharing some ideas, using some gnarly power tools, a hot-tub and premium beef cuts. With so many good times squeezed into such little time the Backyard and Amplid will definitely repeat the experience, so stay tuned for future dates and start imagining your ultimate Blank Plank shape!
Find-out more about Amplid's Blank Planks here
Our partner for the weekend, the Backyard, is the coolest spot to stay in the Zillertal, check out it out here