Editor’s Note: Splitboard.com friend and professional athlete Joey Vosburgh recently wrote this blog post for his sponsor G3 who was generous to let us share it with our readers as well. Thanks Joey and G3!
Joey’s Guide to the Goods
Splitboarding…snowboarding…what’s the difference? For me splitboarding opened up my winter dreams. Dreams I’d been chasing through snowboarding since a I was a wee kid. Along came splitboards and I just knew that was my future. I’ll always love the act of snowboarding, but the added adventure of the climb, the freedom to explore, and the ability to travel in remote areas every day is a sport in itself. This is what has engaged me for so many years in this sport. It keeps me in a constant state of adventure mitigating terrain to find unbelievable descents. Throw some good friends in there and I am completely at peace, alive and healthy.
Passion turned career, it’s been crazy getting into the ‘guiding thing’ through the ACMG as a splitboarder. I’m lucky enough to heli guide all winter in Revelstoke, on my splitboard, with both skiers and boarders. Most groups are totally fine with a snowboard guide, but some guests have that look of dismay when I show up with a split in my hand. After the first run that look is replaced by a huge smile of stoke. Win for snowboarding.
“SURPRISE… THERE IS NO EASY WAY OUT.”
“I used to snowboard but now I ski because its easier to get around in the backcountry.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, well, you know… I’d still be snowboarding for a living. If you love snowboarding don’t shy away from splitboarding because you heard it’s hard. The challenge should be your motivation. Do you want the easy way out? Surprise… there is no easy way out. Winter mountain travel is difficult no matter what you strap to your feet.
These tips are all things I’ve learned from keeping pace on the up and downs with crusher Revelstoke ski tourers like Greg Hill and Chris Rubens. Once I got dialed it really didn’t matter who I went out with; skier or snowboarder it makes no difference. As long as they all bring their A-game and stoke.
Don’t Give Up
Never let anyone, skier or snowboarder, tell you that a split is not an efficient backcountry travel tool. Pick your weapon, then do your time gaining skills and efficiency that follows naturally. It’s like rock climbing. At first you waste all sorts of energy scratching around looking for holds, but once you get stronger and used to the movements you start to crank. Don’t give up on splitboarding because it’s hard – that’s what makes it amazing.
Make Pace, Not War
While you are skinning up make sure you are on your own pace, and try not to sweat. Take a layer off, go down to your base layer if you have to or slow down and let your group get ahead. They’ll wait. A pace that you can still hold a conversation is perfect. Low angle skin tracks help with this. It may take slightly longer but you’ll summit with more energy to shred more laps. Trust that if you practice your pace will quicken.
Pole Like a Samurai
Become efficient with your poles – on the up AND the down. It sounds silly but if you want to lead the pack through variable terrain, have your poles ready for deployment at all times. I personally use 2 piece poles that adjust from about 80cm to 145cm. When I’m descending I shorten the pole to 80 cm’s, hook the baskets together and stab them vertically between my back and the pack, usually on a slight angle to get the grip away from my spine.
“…JUST WHIP OUT YOUR POLES LIKE A SAMURAI…”
Then if you find yourself in a small depression just whip out your poles like a samurai and use them to push. Once back on fall line they can be holstered for hands free shredding again. I often pull out my sticks when I hit the flats below a slope to minimize my exposure to the overhead, then do my transition. Sometimes you might only need to push for 50 m to be in a much safer spot.