G3 Athlete and backcountry photographer, Abby Cooper reflects on a decade of splitboarding. She spills the beans on what she’s learned from her pursuit of powder via splitboard. Some tips are useful for all – light bulb moments, other are a little bit silly in typical Abby format, and some ring true to all backcountry users. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned splitboarder or maybe even a skier with splitboarder friends – you’ll get a take away and maybe an eye roll out of this one.
Gosh darn it, I love this sport. The black toe days, the summit stoke moments, the new friends acquired, the celebrations over après, even the gear drying ritual, - I love splitboarding. While I do well over a hundred days a year, I’m still learning (share your hot tips with me!). Here’s a few things I’ve learnt so far.
THE BEST SPLITBOARD TOOL IS A BIKE TOOL
Allen Keys can solve nearly any problem, and if they can’t a ski strap can. The power couple of the splitboarding repair world.
SHRED MORE AND TAKE LESS RISKS
Ten years into this game and some days I still resettle this lesson, but I know its worth. More safe shred days are better than one big gnarly one that goes sideways in a variety of ways. Whether conditions are variable in quality, spicy in safety, group dynamic is whack, or someone is just mentally not in it – call it or mellow it out and have a go another day. Injuries or backcountry accidents are never worth the risk.
T GRIPS OVER D GRIPS
Once upon a time when I was into making jumps, D grips made my shoveling hands happy. Now that I’m more into digging nice pits, a T grip makes my productivity-craving-snownerdy brain happy.
HOW TO BUILD STUFF
“How do you know there’s a splitboarder in the group?”“They don’t have to tell you, you can hear them building Ikea furniture”
Yup, sometimes it’s noisy, but dang doesn’t it feels good to make skis in a surfy powder board? I’ve never been too shy of power tools or scared of Ikea furniture, but it’s usually a one-and-done situation – you can MacGyver your way through it or the power tool will for you. With splitboarding you really develop a system, sometimes even enter flow state. I guess that’s maybe how assembly works feel, but dang it feels good to make skis into a snowboard.
When going from uphill mode to down hill mode, change your outfit first – layers, helmet, goggles, and so on, then you’re warm and ready to transition your board. When you go from downhill mode to uphill mode, transition your board before delayering for the “be bold start cold” approach. Separating “outfit transition” from “board transition” will make you more efficient instead of trying to do it all at once or loosing track of a task. In theory this method should also keep your core temp the happiest for the longest, but obviously you’re your own thermostat, you might need your own routine.
STATE THE SNOWBOARD OBVIOUS
While splitboarder to splitboarder, regroup locations are often unspoken. Yes, I love my skier friends, but sometimes they need to be told where to regroup that’s “splitboard friendly”. So go on, speak up, don’t forget you’re a splitboarder and not a skier.
WHEN IN DOUBT, POLE IT OUT
Less steezy, but still surfy, ride with your poles out if the alternative is a drowning post hole in a flat section. It’s worth it. And on that note, if your poles are on the outside of your pack when riding, make sure the wrist straps are secured through a backpack strap in case one were to wiggle out in a good-ole-Tommy or powder slash.
SPLITBOARDING IS SNOWBOARDING
DUH. It’s all about sliding on snow with friends. Having fun. Staying safe. Keep it simple.