If you’re new to backcountry snowboarding, you’re probably new to using approach poles too. Think of approach poles as extensions of your arms now giving you the ability to walk on all fours. By walking on all fours, you can take some of the burden off your legs and give yourself better balance in uneven terrain. Skinning would nearly be impossible without the use of approach poles. You can also use approach poles on the descent in rolling or flat terrain to push yourself along. Here are a few important points to remember.

We recommend three section poles over two section poles due to the way they collapse shorter making them easier to store on your pack during the descent. They also allow for more adjustability and can be used in their shortest position on steep bootpacks. The Black Diamond Expedition Poles are the standard among splitboarders due to their FlickLock adjustment mechanism, durable design, and affordable price.

Ascent

For most usage, keep your poles at a length that forms a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and forearm. If the angle is more than 90 degrees your poles are too long, if the angle is less than 90 degrees your poles are too short. When your poles are too short or too long your arms will get tired faster and your legs won’t reap the full benefits of using approach poles.

Keep your approach poles close to your body while skinning. If they’re too far away from your body it will slow you down and result in your arms getting more tired.

Use the cane grip, place your palm on top of the pole’s grip, when you’re really putting pressure on your approach poles as you make your way up the mountain.

Use the regular grip on the pole when you’re in the flats or aren’t putting much pressure on the poles.Know when to shorten one pole and lengthen the other on traverses.

Descent

Approach poles can be useful on the descent in rolling terrain or on small flat sections not long enough to warrant a full transition to split-mode.

Poles can also be useful when doing a long traverse. They can help you stay in the traverse track by being able to push along and give you something to lean on at rest stops.

Using approach poles on the descent is also helpful with a large, overnight packs due to the added balance they provide. They can help prevent a fall, especially in deep powder snow.

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