Post subject: Perceptions and Questions after my first Split trip
Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:30 pm
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 3:12 am Posts: 23
I had been looking for a board for a few months and finally bought one. On Tuesday I took it out for a run up a road that is no longer plowed (Squaw Peak Road) to make sure I knew how to skin. Today was my first real trip of any consequence, and we headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon to climb Reynolds Peak and ride a couple of lines on small hills in the vicinity. A few perceptions and questions:
1. The transition took less time than I expected (it is a Voile 175 Split Decision with Burton bindings that are high back). Pretty quick, to be honest. My friend was skiing and he is a pro (spent some time on Russian expeditions before moving to Utah) and he had complained about the time issue in the past with splitboards. He didn't seem to mind this time, as it was fairly quick. I DO wish that the transition was easier though. The hardware is not SUPER easy to use with gloves on, and that is absolutely my only complaint. Still easy though. On a nice day like today (snowed in the morning, sun in the afternoon), it was fine. On a cold, stormy day I wouldn't want to have to take my gloves off to switch it.
2. Skinning is easier than I expected. I had done a little bit of backcountry riding but always just slogged up. This was far easier. We covered 2,200 vertical in under 2 hours. I felt alright about that.
3. I'm not in as good of shape as I thought. I climb a lot and have done a lot of alpine style stuff. I also run long distance (though not as much anymore). I'm not in good enough shape for this kind of thing. I'm going to have to work on that.
4. I need to learn how to ride deep powder. I've ridden resort powder plenty, but it always had a bottom. North-facing untracked powder in the wasatch is different. It was great as long as I didn't fall....but it was tough to get up. I already busted the basket on one of my ghetto poles. The solution, I suppose, is just to not fall.
5. I rode in Trango soft alpine climbing boots (trango EVO GTX). They tore the hell out of my heel, but they were alright for the descent. I'd been told I was crazy to use them. On a cold day, I would have regretted it. They were not as responsive as my standard clickers, but they were good enough and the runs were still excellent. I might invest in some better boots later, but these were not bad AT ALL.
6. When I was first considering this setup, someone either here or on couloir magazine's forums told me that I would give up alpine climbing for splitboarding because it is THAT much fun. I was like "ha, yeah, alpine climbing is life." Not so sure anymore. I am at work now at 4 pm (was only out for around 4 hours) but I am already hooked. It was THAT good, and Solitude and Snowbird only got 4-6 inches. Can you imagine on an epic powder day? I can't. I am definitely hooked.
And for once, I'm at work and actually smiling. I haven't gotten to ride once in the resorts yet this year because of school and work obligations. I had climbed some. Getting out this morning was great. I am going to make a habit of this, even on days that I work. Anyways, hope other people are having as much fun as I am. Hell, even the ride back down the skin track was fun.
oh, I think I forgot the questions in my excitement....and my boss came in and I had to minimize the window in the middle.
1. Are there methods that people use to switch quicker? I'm not sure how I could really get much quicker except just practice. I might buy a pair of thin liners to start using so I can keep my hands warm while switching.
2. Anybody know if I can buy some super huge baskets for my poles (I've never skied before, so I don't know about this stuff).....I'm gonna superglue them on so I don't lose any more.
3. Can someone teach me how to ride powder better? Because while it is fun as hell, there is a lot of room for improvement there.
Glad to hear you had a good time...over the years I've introduced over a dozen people to the backcountry...I don't think a single one has disliked it enough NOT to continue.
Glove liners are key to making the switch easier. You'll eventually get the hang of making things quicker with gloves on in a cold, blowing wind...Just watch where you put the sliders so you don't accidentally lose one down a couloir or something...no fun...
Look for powder baskets for your poles. They're sold by brand and make a big difference in deep powder. Nothing worse than trying to push on your pole and have the handle sink to your feet.
Deep powder...Here's a little trick to get up in deep powder that you can't do at a resort...Rather than try to push yourself up like you do on a packed run (hands and knees or hands and butt), dig/push the tail of your board underneath you with the tip up in the air (vertical). Now push on your front foot and get your weight over the board...Voila!
More than anything, KEEP PRACTICING and get avy training if you haven't already.
Thanks for the powder suggestion, I will try that.
I have a fair amount of avy training and a beacon and shovel, since I've been involved in climbing for a couple of years now. But I could use more, to be honest. I'd like to be able to understand what the hell people are talking about when they ramble about facet layers on telemarktalk in the wasatch thread.
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:11 pm Posts: 122 Location: Los Angeles, CA
FYI, if you use Life-Link or Black Diamond poles, the Life-Link powder baskets are GREAT. The black diamond powder baskets, IMHO, suck ass.
Transitions -- looks like using a tail clip speeds up BCD's transition, I will have to try that for sure. Mostly habit and practice, for me at least. But, this is only my 4th season on a split (and only my 2nd "real" season).
1100' vert/hour is pretty damn good (IMHO, again) for start of the season, I was doing something like 1000'-1250'/hour average over the course of last season. Maybe 1400'/hour, tops, up Lamarck Col and that was perfect conditions and me in great shape after skinning all season.
I am hoping that lighter bindings (plates) and boots will improve that a bit, along with taking less crap in my pack, and having skins that fit perfectly, as this season gets underway (finally!).
My poles right now are old Scott ones that I poached off my old roommate who is super into skiing (not so much backcountry though).
A little disappointed today....I had a rare saturday off and wanted to head out but I woke up at 1 pm. Called the avy forecast and it was considerable on the east and north slopes I was looking at. Oh well. I went to the resorts and got rained on instead.
I had problems in powder on my first day out this year, and the solution (for me) was to set my bindings more toward the rear of the board (~2 inches further back), and put on a fresh coat of wax. It made a dramatic difference. You have to keep your nose up, and there is a sweet spot for this on the board when it comes to riding deep powder.
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