I first began splitboarding 9 years ago with an old snowboard that I cut in half. My friends were starting to go touring and I needed to find a way to keep up with their skis and access the backcountry without being ‘that guy’ on snow shoes. Splitboarding was still a new player in snow sports, and so factory boards cost a fortune and weren’t as advanced as they are now, the answer was to buy a Voile Split Kit and cut one of my old boards in half.
The sport has come a long way since then. Splitboard technology has evolved so fast that the days of compromising the rigidity of a solid snowboard are no longer. The transition period from snowboard to ‘skis’ and back to snowboard again takes no time at all and the ride down is no longer compromised due to the introduction of splitboard specific bindings and better snowboard construction.
Splitboarding has grown into its own sport away from its more rebellious older sibling. It has its own identity but seems to have attracted similar minds of that who were first attracted to snowboarding all those years ago. It’s exciting to be part of something thats evolving both as an industry and a community.
Splitboarding is a process and it shouldn’t be rushed. Learn all you can about snowboarding and most importantly snow safety. Take the time to get the fundamentals dialled in and the rewards will outlay the effort 10 fold. So why bother splitboarding? it’s a lot of effort and investment right? What I can share with you are the reasons I love it so much and what it has given me.
The main and most important reason for me is the freedom in being able to move around the mountains and not be constrained by chair lift access. I am a freerider first and foremost, I enjoy picking a line through natural terrain, I also love lift accessed lines or boot packing up couloirs, but my splitboard means I can take that freeride influence into bigger and more remote mountains.
For me, it’s all about powder and steep lines. I’m more interested in the run down then the climb up, but that overwhelming feeling you get from earning your turns and that sense of achievement that it was all off your own back is addictive and will have you chasing more of it.
I think one of the most enticing draws of splitboarding is getting away from the crowds and the ever increasing hustle of modern ski resorts.
I love being able to experience the mountains in their untouched, uninhabited state knowing that I have the choice of going where ever my imagination will allow. You can disconnect from the outside world and take a moment to breathe in the fresh air and take in your surroundings.
Being in the backcountry with like minded people is one of the best experiences a person can have. Usually people who ski tour or splitboard will share all the same goals and state of mind. It could be finding the steepest lines to ride, the deepest snow or just simply to explore using their own will power. It’s this melting pot of personalities and dedicated minds that really takes the experiences to new levels, people bouncing their stories and knowledge off of one another can really help to shape a persons character and forms strong bonds that can last a lifetime.
I guess this encompasses all of the above, there are many ways to explore and every person has their own idea and limitations. It can be as simple as skinning up the pistes to reach the top of a resort to see the sunrise(one of my guilty pleasures) or as drastic as travelling into the heart of the mountains to find places that see few humans. Splitboarding makes all of this possible and encourages the creative mind to channel that energy into something rewarding.
I think it takes a few tries to get bitten by the splitboard bug and perseverance is key, but once you have been on your first trip to a backcountry hut I can guarantee the experience will stay with you.
I hope this encourages everyone to get out there and give it a go. But make sure you have all the avalanche safety equipment and you know how to use it. Never venture into a new area without having done your research, part of the fun of touring is drooling over maps and choosing routes and it should never be overlooked. Don’t be fooled by how easy the professionals make it look, they have spent years honing their skills and doing their homework. A good starting point is to make contact with local communities, go along to events and just get talking to brands and people who can help you get started.
Leon Butler @leon.butler87