Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:53 pm Posts: 30 Location: Routt County Colorado
The guys I ride with are bigtime avalanche instructors and gnarly backcountry enthusiasts and they are all skiers. We don't necessarily just hike up and ride down. We hike up a bit, dig a lot of pits, hike up more, dig more pits, traverse a lot of terrain and go through shit I'd never even think about going through. Anyway, its obvious that with who I ride with and where they take me, im limited as a snowboarder when comparing to my skier buddies.
Does anybody else feel this way?
Also, I'm quite new to touring in the backcountry as well.
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:44 pm Posts: 695 Location: The Magic City
I feel your pain. It's taken me years of refining my system to be able to keep up with and often beat my skier pals at transitions, but it's definitely possible. Provided you're not touring with a bunch of rando-racer type mentalities...
My biased MT advice from years of touring in lots of rolling terrain and low-angle drainage descents- learn to ski your board (split skiing if you will). That's probably the #1 time saver over the course of a day.
Also, it's been said before but picking a system and sticking to it during transitions really helps speed things up. For me, I like to remember "Board, Body, Backpack", meaning at the top of a run I immediately transition my hardware from skinning mode to snowboard mode, then move on to putting on shell/goggles/etc..., and finally dealing with putting skins and poles in my pack and heading down. There are obviously tons of refinements you can make, but I've found that if you just remember the three big things, you can always be mentally one step ahead of the game. Being dialed helps keep me faster at transitions than most of my skier pals (granted they aren't trying to "win the race", but I am, if only to help keep things flowing nicely).
First, show up at the trailhead ready to go. Board split, poles extended, I even put my skins on at home. Leave you jacket in the bag as cold as you are at the trailhead your going to be sweating balls in 10 minutes. Drink up before you get started as well then you can save your next drink for the first transition or at the top. Drinking constantly, fueling etc., super important try not to let other dictate when that happens but if you get a bit of it done at the bottom you can save some of it for the top.
Gear matters. Light is right if you want to go long and strong. If your rich, a HB set-up could be good for the crowd it sounds like your touring with. Of course you will have to be super fit. I haven't been very good about this lately but, lunges, step-ups, etc with a weighted pack along with my cardio workouts plus don't get in the habit when your by yourself to go slow, keep a good pace and push hard in those moments and it pays off big time later. I would add that skinning technique such as kick turns, traverses, etc. can be just as important as any of the above gear or fitness. Like others said split skiing, etc. I use kickturns to go down hill just as much as I do to go uphill, it's super efficient. Keep your poles long.
Anyways that was just to add to what others have said. Nothing better than passing skiers on the up track. Sounds like you got into a good group of dudes to be around. I personally don't care much for riding with skiers they see the mountain different than us shredders but if you do have to be around em better to have some dudes who know snow and respect mountains. Take care.
Hard boots would be better for traverses... (Skis will all ways traverse better) It sucks if the guys your with are in a rush, why rush things? We have the advantage in the powder, we get to surf it while skiers concentrate on holding their knees together...