Discover Splitboarding episode 2.

March 15, 2016 | 7:14 pm | No comments »

MiikkaHast-2347

Buttering. photo : Jani Kärppä

Many people, who I talk to, who are hiking on snowshoes and riding solids, still doubt the performance of the splitboards and shun all the “extra” gear that it takes. I personally never used snow shoes after I tried split for the first time years ago, except on snowsurf days. I felt that it is so much easier and more efficient to move around in the mountains with a split compared to snowshoes. Also, I discovered that the splitboard performs very well in various conditions. I trusted the equipment right away. In powder snow, I don’t feel much of a difference anymore between split or a solid. Of course it is not the same since the board is cut in half but once you have some speed it performs almost like a solid. I even feel comfortable riding freestyle stuff with a split.

There are lots of new gear that you have to get when starting splitboarding in addition to the basic backcountry safety equipment (first episode): the splitboard itself, bindings, skins, poles, crampons, etc,. It can be quite the maze which one to choose and the gear is quite pricy as well. There is an option to start with DIY set and cutting your old solid in half but the performance and durability will suffer.

Here are my tips for gear selection :

Board: there are lots of shapes to choose from these days. I recommend trying out the board before buying if possible. The powder surf shapes are very tempting, great fun and work well in good snow just like powder solids but they are maybe not for every day. So think about the terrain and conditions you are going to use the split the most. When I travel and can only choose one board I always take the trusted board shape  (Jones Solution) that can handle any condition. So if I was to pick my first split I would go with a shape that I could use in any conditions.

Bindings : Have come a long way too. When Karakoram came up with the quiver connectors (plate that connects split binding into solid) I stopped using regular bindings. Since I ride a lot with split and I feel most comfortable with split bindings I want to have the same feel on solids as well. Anyway, invest if possible on split bindings over the plates that you can use under the regular bindings on splitboard. The feel is from another world when you are closer to the board and it is much lighter. Crampons are good addition to the bindings. They help the hiking and climbing a lot on icy or slippery conditions and save a lot of energy.

Skins : Lots of different ones to choose from and basically the difference is in the glue and the hair. I trust regular glue that you can patch or replace completely if needed. Mohair versus nylon skin? Mohair glides better but loses on grip agains nylon. Mohair is lighter in weight. There are different mixes in the market that combines mohair and nylon which are best option, I think. Is the tail clip necessary? Not necessary but it is very handy specially if you are doing many laps or runs per day. It will holds the end part of the skin in place better when the glue starts to be wet or icy.

Clothing : Layering is the key. Start with technical first layer that keeps you dry when sweating. Then add a thermal layer depending on the temperature and cover everything with a good shell jacket and pants (at least 10000mm). I use Protest James jacket and Miikka Pants. Then I always have a extra puffy jacket in the backpack for warmth if the conditions change and it is nice to have on the top of the mountain.

Poles : Choose ones that fit inside of your backpack so they won’t hit or get stuck on anything while riding. And try to pick durable material (I use aluminium) so they will hold a lot of wear and bending.

Avalanche airbag/rescue bag : It is very good to have if accident happens but you should not trust it to save you or make you take more risks. Avalanches can be serious and deadly even if they don’t bury you. The airbag does not affect my risk taking at all. Even if I have it and I think there is a slight chance of a serious avalanche I turn around without hesitation. I use the airbag in case there is a unexpected slide which can always happen too.

Pocket camera : For riding navigation. If you approach your line from behind you should take a photo of the face since it will look very different when you are standing on the top. Even cellphones serve the purpose these days. They are also good if you need to call for help but keep in mind that the phone disturbs the beacon signal a bit.

Accessories : piece of plastic for clearing ice, piece of rope for tying up things or cutting snow, first aid kit, sunglasses, screwdriver/pocketknife

Second episode is filmed mostly in Pyhä Ski Resort and the freestyle stuff in Tamok and Lyngen, Norway.

 


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