Powder Guns–Swallowtails

I was at Alyeska resort in Alaska, where a deep three feet of snow had fallen the night before. It was one of those rare moments when having the right equipment meant the difference between nirvana and cursing Mother Nature endlessly.

I dropped off the chair, floating easily over the fluff. Feeling the tail sink slightly, the nose rose above the mess and I quickly picked up speed, passing struggling riders buried and scratching for the surface.

The 178 cm swallowtail powder gun was just the board for the occasion. Swallowtails are some of the most highly specialized snowboards made today. They are used singularly for deep, soft powder. Due to their unusually long length (usually 178 to 200 cm) and namesake tail design, the boards are difficult, if not impossible, to turn and handle in hard-packed, on-piste, lift-accessed runs.

But if you plan on hiking, snowmobiling, catboarding, or heliing into deep powder, consider a swallowtail. Riding will be pure and effortless. You won’t be able to go fakie or land 180s, but hell, it’s powder, damn it.

–John Stouffer