It’s called splitboarding, and it blends the joyful approach to ski touring in the backcountry with the searching soul of snowboarding.
Say goodbye to boot packing and snowshoes. Along with a set of poles, splitboards take riders to the mountains efficiently and effectively.
Here is a basic kit, plus a few items that will get you anywhere. Just add snow.
1) Board/binding interface
Look for a binding that is comfortable with your boots and is easily repairable in the field. As for the board, something that will complement the kind of riding you plan on doing: Fresh powder? Get a powder board. Spring skiing, get something a little stiffer. Something that can handle a little of everything is always a good idea.
Your normal resort boots will work, but if you plan on ticking off days in the backcountry, get a specific pair of splitboarding boots. They are warmer and stiffer, with a “walk mode” for easier walking and touring. Most have added traction and beefed up soles for rugged terrain, and many are designed to work well with strap-on crampons.
That’s right, splitboarders need ski poles, part of our split personality.
Something that folds down and stows away without too much fuss. Adjustable pole locks are handy, and the smaller and faster they break down the better.
None of this is happening without a pair of “skins,” essentially a strip of thick fabric with a light adhesive, or glue. They adhere to the boards so you can slide forward, but not backward. When you’re done “skinning” peel them off and pack them away.
5) Ski crampons
These toothy items are the difference between struggling on and joyfully ascending. Fitting under your binding in ski mode, they slide forward with ease, then bite into the snow as you weight them, gaining solid purchase.
6) Strap-on crampons
Don’t worry, splitboarding isn’t climbing dead vertical mountains, unless you want to. Strap-on crampons let you walk confidently if you carry your board on your pack. They are good for security and kicking steps into steep and icy terrain.