I first began splitboarding 7 years ago with an old snowboard that I cut in half. My friends were starting to go touring and I needed to find a way to keep up with their skis and access the backcountry without being 'that guy' on snow shoes. Splitboarding was still a new player in snow sports and so factory boards cost a fortune, the answer was to buy a Voile Split Kit and cut one of my old boards in half. Im not going to lie, at first I hated it, but the further I got to explore the more my eyes opened up to what was possible.
The sport has come a long way since then. Splitboard technology has evolved so fast that the days of compromising the rigidity of a solid snowboard are no longer. The transition period from snowboard to skis and back to snowboard again takes no time at all and the ride down is no longer sacrificed due to splitboard specific bindings that make all the difference. Splitboarding has grown into its own sport, away from its more rebellious older brother, and it's only going to keep getting better the more the technology evolves.
So why bother splitboarding? Im not going to preach to you on why you need to go and spend all your savings on a set up as its a sport that you naturally progress into when you aren't getting what you want out of regular freeriding, its a process and it shouldn't be rushed. Learn all you can about snowboarding, snow safety and what you like to do on your board. What I can share with you are the reasons I love it so much and what it has given me.
The main and most important reason for me is the freedom in being able to move around the mountains and not be constrained by chair lift access. I am a freerider first and foremost, so I love lift accessed lines or boot packing up couloirs, but my splitboard means I can take that freeride influence into bigger mountains with better features.
For me, its about powder and steep lines. Im more interested in the run down then the climb up, but there is that overwhelming feeling you get from earning your turns and that sense of achievement that it was all off your own back.
I think one of the most enticing draws of splitboarding is getting away from the crowds and the ever increasing hustle of modern ski resorts. Its fantastic that snow sports are accessible to everyone now, but I sometimes get that frustrated feeling when i've hiked a line only to find a group of people have beat me to it and torn up that pristine snow...or maybe thats just my slightly bitter, old age showing through.
I love being able to tour, and experience the mountains in their untouched, uninhabited state knowing that I have the choice of going where ever my imagination will allow. Nothing can beat that feeling when you look around and there is no one around and that you can paint your lines down a multitude of fresh faces.
Backcountry and any off-piste should always be done in groups, but touring with like minded people is one of the best experiences a person can have. Usually people who ski tour or splitboard will share all the same goals and ideas, whether thats finding the steepest lines to ride, the deepest snow or just simply to explore using their own will power. Its this melting pot of personalities and dedicated minds that really takes the experiences to new levels, people bouncing their stories and knowledge off of one another can really help to shape a snowboarder and forms strong bonds that can last a lifetime.
I guess this encompasses all of the above, there are many ways to explore and every person has their own idea and limitations. It can be as simple as skinning up the pistes to reach the top of a resort to see the sunrise(one of my guilty pleasures) or as drastic as travelling into the heart of Patagonia to find places that have seen few humans. Splitboarding makes all of this possible and encourages the creative mind to channel that energy into something rewarding.
I think it takes a few tries to get bitten by the splitboard bug and perseverance is key, but once you have been on your first trip to a backcountry hut I can guarantee the experience will leave you wanting more.
I hope this encourages everyone to get out there and give it a go. But make sure you have all the avalanche safety equipment and you know how to use it. Never venture into a new area without having done your research, part of the fun of touring is drooling over maps and choosing routes, it should never be overlooked. Don't be fooled by how easy the professionals make it look, they have spent hours doing their homework.