Hola gang. bcrider has been a big poster over at telemarktips for years, and I as well as many have enjoyed his TRs. Well, enough so that I'm curious about single planking and want to get started. So, I am here, posting to you to see if I can tease out some pointed advice on how to do just that.
Many reasons why I want to try boarding, but specifically two:
1) I've skied my entire life, tele and alpine, but have never really given boarding a shot (maybe 10 days when I was 12-14)
2) My feet. I have truly abnormally wide feet, and I've gotten to the point that it is deterring me from skiing. Aggressive shell modding on my backcountry boots only net me marginal comfort enough for a few hours of suffering before it overwhelms me and sends me back to my sneakers. I've read that some of the soft boots, like the Salomon Synapse Wide, might yield more comfort. I'm a true 4E wide with a size 9 foot that measures just shy of 130mm across the ball of foot. Flippers.
I ski mostly backcountry...like 90%...and have for over 10 years now. Living in Colorado it's usually Berthoud, Butler or Indian Peaks/RMNP. Splitting is obviously where my interests are, but honestly I don't know if my 10 days of boarding when I was a kid will mean a long or short learning curve.
What I'm mostly interested in asking y'all about is gear. I figure a wide softboot is what I'm into, which means a strap binding, but what about a board? Should I jump on a splitter from day 1 or should I maybe get a cheaper, learning board and as I progress start snowshoeing first? I have snowshoes.
As such, what types of boards should I be looking at? I'm sure I have displayed general ignorance about boarding, so I'm hoping you guys will be able to read between the lines and point me in the right direction. Any and all advice is welcome!
Joined: Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:22 pm Posts: 675 Location: Durango, CO
Very cool you are thinking of making the switch. My pieces of advice are: I think you should learn to snowboard at a resort. Get at least a season under your belt and be comfortable with black and double black diamonds before you commit to the backcountry. I think learning to snowboard in the backcountry and inefficient and dangerous. You will get 1/50th of the vertical in a day then on a resort, so it will take a really long time to learn. Also, a lot of skills just need to be honed on a resort and not in the backcountry. Sometimes you just mess up and end up in the wrong area, and having the skills to navigate that situation is most important. You probably understand this as a backcountry enthusiast. Imagine taking a first time skier down, for a year. I just think it is bad news in general.
As for a board. Boards to learn to snowboard on are much softer then most of what this forum will ride. These will help you learn to initiate turns and not catch edges as much. As you progress and do more freeriding, the boards become stiffer. A stiff board will be difficult to learn to snowboard on. Because of this, look at the Burton LTR program and some of the learn to ride boards out there. I believe Lib tech may make one as well. These will help you get up to speed faster. Rent some boards a few times and save your $. Also if you get a splitboard and hate it, you just wasted money. Everyone will have a different preference of board when you get your skills locked in. Right now, you should learn to turn and not be concerned about getting a splitboard.
I don't want to push you from not getting into splitboarding, but be realistic about it. I'd say take this year to learn to ride on resort, and next year consider a splitboard or start slowshoeing (and hate it and just get a splitboard)
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:27 pm Posts: 596 Location: Rainier Beach
^^^^ this. I think you'd be ready for some backcountry lines after a 20 day season in the resorts. You can always duck some ropes and step it up to the sidecountry/bootpack off the top lifts at some of your fave resorts if you are feeling ready for some bc lines prior to splitting off into the BC.
Take a few lessons at a resort to start with. I know it problably sounds dumb if you are already an expert skiier, but this will help you learn way faster at the beginning.
If you are already an experienced BC skiier, I would expect your learning curve to be quite fast, and most of the BC travel / avy skills we take years to learn you'll already have under your belt.
Also, one bit of advice on boards -- demo and rent lots of different boards, so you learn what you like. Most of the riders on this forum like long, stiff boards, which are are not the easiest boards to ride and learn on. I think it's way more important to ride a board you are comfortable on and will have fun on, rather than a board that you chose for some newfangled technology it supposedly offers. My
I was planning on some lessons and resort days to begin. I have more than a few instructor friends that "owe me one,"
Good to know about soft-er boards to start. I'll probably rent for my first day and borrow a few times before I make a purchase. That said, I'm probably going to buy some boots regardless, especially since I don't think I can count on rental boots to be wide enough for me.
With that in mind, besides the Solomon Synapse Wide I mentioned, what wide boots do you guys know about? Like freakishly wide. Bueller?
Also, what's a good resource for used gear besides craigslist?
Joined: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:04 am Posts: 195 Location: truckee, ca
welcome to sb.com!
I've been snowboarding since I'm 14 (~23 years) and splitting for the last five, but started AT skiing last winter a bit too.
I agree that the resort is a way better place to dial some skills (I spent a lot of time of groomers last year on my skis) and you can pick up used snowboard equipment on the cheap, though buying good boots from the get go makes the most sense.
Joined: Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:35 am Posts: 32 Location: Valdez, Alaska
Just for a different perspective, I learned to snowboard off-piste, and it was great. That's how nearly everyone around here learns. I tried learning on a little groomed tow rope hill (the only groomed snow within a six hour drive), but gave up in disgust after two and a half days of falling on hard, icy crap. The day after that I drove up to Thompson Pass, found a safe, mellow slope, and set out bootpacking. After the third run you're basically just walking up a staircase, and I could make 10-15 runs in one spot before it was really tracked out. It gives you plenty of time on the way back up to think about anything you did wrong on the last run. Maybe it's more work to learn that way instead of riding a chairlift, but I think it was worth it. I learned to ride in the same place I'm going to ride, instead of learning on groomers and then having to learn again in powder. And falling down in pow is kinda fun, so that helps you feel a lot more confident.
I don't know how many of you are familiar with Berthoud Pass, but there are a couple of right-off-the-road shots that are frequent park&play spots like you speak of. They seem like they might be good options for me when I don't feel like ponying up cash for a lift-ride.
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:59 am Posts: 252 Location: Amsterdam
Learning in waistdeep pow may not be such a great idea, you'll mostly be digging yourself out. But I agree that it's possible to go straight to riding outside of the resort if you're experienced in skiing and safety already.
I taught a guy from NZ how to ride once in nothing but deep snow. He was a complete novice, it was his 3rd day ever. He had trouble with icy stuff after two weeks but had no trouble getting down mellow treeruns. Asked me what to do when he was going too fast to control, and I said "aim for the smallest tree, they will bend". He didn't get the joke and actually tried it, you had to be there I guess....
Start in the resort with a solid board, but bring your snowshoes.
Also, there are plenty soft(er) boards that are good fun in the backcountry and would work for a beginner too. You could buy a solid board and split it yourself when you feel you are ready. A Slaomon Sick Stick would be an option and can be found cheap. Don't invest in expensive bindings either, just buy a cheap second hand set. When you switch to a split board you will probably want specific splitboard bindings anyway.
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 6:48 pm Posts: 670 Location: Kodiak, AK
I taught my wife to snowboard here in the Alaska backcountry, but things really jelled when we traveled and we got serious daily vert at a resort. How snowboarding works in conditions other than deep pow is pretty counter-intuitive. It's so much easier to learn good habits from a qualified instructor or a smart and patient friend who rides than it is to unlearn bad habits formed through experimentation.
After you have a couple resort days under your belt, start on any old cheap used splitboard. As your interest and skills develop, you will also gain an idea what kind of riding you like and what setup will compliment that. Don't be afraid to start on a board that's not perfect for you. None will be until you gain the knowledge to know what you want. It would be silly for anyone to recommend a specific model or style of board if you are just starting out. Any board would be equally foreign to a newby. Once you decide you like steeps or tricks or pow or touring summits, we can help you with the next step.
The fact that you are already totally proficient in BC skiing will be a huge leg up in your transition. All you need is the specific mechanics of snowboarding. You are starting out with lots of transferable skills.
_________________ Jones Solution 163W Venture Zephyr 164/260 Never Summer SL 163X Burton Spliff 148 Voile Mojo RX 166 BD, G3, and Gecko skins Sparks!
I have super wide feet and love my Salomon Malamutes. I also love my Salmon Sick Stick in the resort as noted above. Anything with rocker and camber combo will be forgiving. You won't regret the switch.