Splitboarding... snowboarding... what's the difference? For me splitboarding opened up my winter dreams. Dreams I'd been chasing through snowboarding since a I was a wee kid. Along came splitboards and I just knew that was my future. I'll always love the act of snowboarding, but the added adventure of the climb, the freedom to explore, and the ability to travel in remote areas every day is a sport in itself. This is what has engaged me for so many years in this sport. It keeps me in a constant state of adventure mitigating terrain to find unbelievable descents. Throw some good friends in there and I am completely at peace, alive and healthy.
Passion turned career, it's been crazy getting into the 'guiding thing' through the ACMG as a splitboarder. I'm lucky enough to heli guide all winter in Revelstoke, on my splitboard, with both skiers and boarders. Most groups are totally fine with a snowboard guide, but some guests have that look of dismay when I show up with a split in my hand. After the first run that look is replaced by a huge smile of stoke. Win for snowboarding.
"I used to snowboard but now I ski because its easier to get around in the backcountry." If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, well, you know... I'd still be snowboarding for a living. If you love snowboarding don't shy away from splitboarding because you heard it's hard. The challenge should be your motivation. Do you want the easy way out? Surprise... there is no easy way out. Winter mountain travel is difficult no matter what you strap to your feet.
These tips are all things I've learned from keeping pace on the up and downs with crusher Revelstoke ski tourers like Greg Hill and Chris Rubens. Once I got dialed it really didn't matter who I went out with; skier or snowboarder it makes no difference. As long as they all bring their A-game and stoke.
JOEY'S TIPS FOR GETTING THE GOODS
Don't Give Up. Never let anyone, skier or snowboarder, tell you that a split is not an efficient backcountry travel tool. Pick your weapon, then do your time gaining skills and efficiency that follows naturally. It's like rock climbing. At first you waste all sorts of energy scratching around looking for holds, but once you get stronger and used to the movements you start to crank. Don't give up on splitboarding because it's hard - that's what makes it amazing.
Make Pace, Not War. While you are skinning up make sure you are on your own pace, and try not to sweat. Take a layer off, go down to your base layer if you have to or slow down and let your group get ahead. They'll wait. A pace that you can still hold a conversation is perfect. Low angle skin tracks help with this. It may take slightly longer but you'll summit with more energy to shred more laps. Trust that if you practice your pace will quicken.
JOEY GROOVING TO HIS OWN PACE. PHOTO BY RYAN CREARY
Pole Like a Samurai. Become efficient with your poles – on the up AND the down. It sounds silly but if you want to lead the pack through variable terrain, have your poles ready for deployment at all times. I personally use 2 piece poles that adjust from about 80cm to 145cm. When I'm descending I shorten the pole to 80 cm's, hook the baskets together and stab them vertically between my back and the pack, usually on a slight angle to get the grip away from my spine.
Then if you find yourself in a small depression just whip out your poles like a samurai and use them to push. Once back on fall line they can be holstered for hands free shredding again. I often pull out my sticks when I hit the flats below a slope to minimize my exposure to the overhead, then do my transition. Sometimes you might only need to push for 50 m to be in a much safer spot.
Anticipate Terrain. I'm not talking about the gnarly lines, rather the micro terrain you see every day. Being on a snowboard has slight disadvantages when certain terrain is encountered. I am constantly assessing what's ahead of me on a micro level to make sure I never get sucked into a piece of terrain that exaggerates those disadvantages. Pre-trip planning and scanning the terrain ahead of you on the up and the down goes along way for splitboarding in the mountains.
PHOTO BY RYAN CREARY
Dial Your Kit. Make sure your everything is tight and working properly. Loosing a strap or breaking a binding because you forced it can have terrible consequences, especially if you're a ways out there. And if you dial in a quality, lightweight set up, you'll have bigger lines to feast upon, and more success when you get out there.
GEARING UP FOR ANOTHER LAP. PHOTO BY RYAN CREARY
There you have it. I'm no Jedi but I've spent a lifetime in the mountains on a splitboard and I'm hoping for a lifetime still ahead... with more splitters out there to enjoy it with. My rig just got over a pound lighter with Phantom bindings and a G3 Black Sheep Carbon X3 deck, so I'll be going as deep as I can get. See you out there.
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