Fed up of finding that the snow that fell overnight has already been tracked out before you've had your morning croissant? UK Freeride World Tour athlete Leon Butler gives his top five reasons you need to swap your snowboard for a splitboard this winter.
I first began splitboarding five 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. This was the answer. 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. Splitboarding is now its own sport away from its big brother, and it's only going to keep getting better.
Now is an exciting time to get involved, so here are my five reasons why you should give it a go this season!
1. You Earn Your Turns
Splitboarding isn't easy, in fact it takes a lot of effort to get to where you want to go, but boy is it worth it. The sense of achievement you feel when you are stood above an untouched slope after 3 hours of skinning up is something you can't put into words. You're exhausted but you feel a sudden surge of energy knowing that you are about to ride the line of the season and you got there under your own steam.
2. The Freedom and Spirit of Adventure
Splitboarding isn't always like in the movies, you don't have to be in the middle of the Alaskan mountains to consider yourself on an adventure. Some of the best days I have had have been only an hour away from the chairlifts, far enough that there is no one else around but still close enough that you can explore in a morning. As humans we are programmed to explore; everyone has a curious side and splitboarding really taps into that part of your unconscious. It allows your creativity to flow through your snowboard.... you can go wherever you want to go and paint your line down a clean mountain face.
3. Better Health
A fairly boring point but a relevant one. Every time you split your board in half and start moving you are using muscles you didn't even know you had. It takes time to feel comfortable but each time you go out you are improving your fitness. Your legs will soon be made of steel. It also has an effect on your mental state, there is something truly peaceful when exploring the backcountry. It has a subtle simplicity.
It's always a good idea to venture into the backcountry with others - in fact it's mandatory in my eyes - but nothing beats doing it with mates. When you are skinning up a slope, your legs burning, you feel like you're on your own and that maybe you shouldn't have eaten that last donut. At this point I recommend to stop, look up at the beauty of your surroundings, have a laugh with your mates and realise how perfect the moment is and why you are doing it. That beer at the end of the day tastes so much better when you and your friends are tired and hurting but stoked on the day. The beauty of this sport is how quickly you can make new friends, with such a strong passion that is shared by many you will have new touring buddies before you know it.
5. The Real Reason, POWDER!
I'm not one of those guys who does it for the way up, I'm all about the way down. Nothing beats riding a snowboard in knee deep powder and that's the exact reason I splitboard. I love standing at the bottom of a mountain and picking my line down the face in front of me, it's how I get my kicks. Planning the route up is a completely different beast and it does take a bit of skill choosing the most efficient way, but just keep in mind why you are there.
Feeling inspired? View our full range ofsplitboard and backcountry equipment to start your own adventure!
You can follow Leon's splitboarding escapades on his blog and Instagram.