The Heli-Ski Blog

Splitboarding - The Way to Ride on a Heli-Assisted Ski Tour!

Posted by Topher Donahue on Dec 30, 2009 1:39:00 PM

To access backcountry powder stashes, snowboarders first used snowshoes or tiny skis, but modern splitboards allow riders to tour uphill like skiers and then clip their two halves into a single board for the ride down.  For some tricks in how to efficiently use a splitboard, I tracked down Theresa Clinton, Sales Manager for Prior Skis and Snowbards.  Her splitboarding experience includes tours to areas such as the remote Brian Waddington Hut on the eastern slopes of British Columbia's Coast Range.

TD: Can splitboarders keep up with skiers during the uphill/downhill transitions?

TC: I find that splitboarders can do the changeover as quickly as the skiers as long as they have had a bit of practice and have a systematic way of doing the switch.  You need to have a 'routine' way that you do it every time and you just become more time efficient with each transition.

TD: Are there tricks for changing uphill/downhill modes easily?

TC: A couple of things that make life easier:

  • Make sure the setup is in good working order (pucks mounted properly with screws tightened down, slider tracks go on and off easily, etc) the night BEFORE you go out on a trip.
  • Make sure the wire of the pin is attached to your binding properly so you don't lose it!
  • Put some wax in the grooves of the slider track so that it glides on and off easily.
  • Stand your board up on its side when putting binding/slider tracks on/off pucks for better leverage.
  • Keep your de-icing tool handy (comes with the Voile hardware kit) in case you need to remove ice from inside edges when reconnecting the board.
  • Use plastic 'cheat sheets' between your skins for easier/faster separation.
  • Mark your collapsible poles at the height you like.

TD: Are splitboards better than using tiny skis or snowshoes for the uphill?

TC: Splitboards are better than small skis or snowshoes since:

  1. Your board is under your feet, not on your back when skinning uphill and you don't have to carry the snowshoes/skis on your back when snowboarding down.
  2. You have more surface area with the splitboard for better purchase/traction and floatation on the ascent.

TD: What kind of skins would you recommend for a splitboard?

TC: Voile skins are specially made for splitboards - they are wide enough and don't have the tail clip which is not required for splitboards.

TD: I see Prior just launched the world's first freestyle splitboard. That should shake up the backcoutry a bit!  Are there things to consider with what splitboard is best?

TC: Of course I'm biased and believe that Prior splitboards are the best, but there are several models to choose from and the best one depends on the individual rider and their riding style.  My personal favourite is the Khyber split with the Hybrid Rocker since it has a wider nose for extra floatation and the taper allows it to turn on a dime in trees and chutes.  The All Mountain Freestyle split has a twin shape for easy switch riding and landings.

TD: Are there any tools you take with you in the backcountry? 

TC: Philips screwdriver and plyers (small Leatherman is great since it has these among other things), but more importantly, carry some extra parts:

  • Slider pin
  • T-nuts 
  • Bolts 

TD: Wow,  Theresa, you've obviously had some awesome times riding in the backcountry.  Any other suggestions?

TC: Here are two:

  1. For ski mode, switch the board halves so that the sidecut is on the inside and the straight edge is on the outside so they behave more like skis while touring. 
  2. If you are riding in undulating terrain, don't put your poles in your pack, just ride with them in your hand since they can come in handy when you need to push along the flats!

No snowboarder has yet done a CMH heli-assisted ski touring week in the Bugaboos, Monashees or the Adamants.  Now that would be a fun first!  Better yet, rock the boat, enter a splitboarding video in the What Inspires You to Ski Tour contest and win a week of heli-assisted ski touring in the Adamants next April!

Topics: Heli-Boarding, CMH Experts