Top Tips For Splitboarding Beginners
Photo credit: Phil Tifo | Rider: Scott Newsom
Splitboarding is a great way to explore and enjoy the snow; from glens and forests to remote mountains, it gives you incredible freedom. Getting into the sport opens up a whole new side to any mountain or resort and can be a hugely fulfilling experience. But before you set co-ordinates on your nearest snow-capped peak, we thought we would ask our Aviemore-based backcountry expert Dani for his top tips for beginners.
Keep it light
Splitboarding in the backcountry requires a fair amount of equipment, so it's important to try and keep the weight of each item to a minimum where possible. Keeping it lightweight makes life a lot easier!
Splitboarding is a sport of extreme temperatures. You can become very hot on the ascent and very cold when you reach the summit or are riding down, so you must get your clothing right. The most effective way to do this is to layer properly, allowing you to maintain a comfortable body temperature all the time. It's often a good idea to set out with just a base layer and shell to begin with, as you quickly warm up and sweat through exertion.
- Proper snowboard socks; they have to cover the whole leg until the knees and provide good protection around the heels, toes, shins but right compression at the high and low cuff and forefoot.
- Merino liner gloves are very useful when you are skinning up.
- A thinner beanie is very handy too.
Be physically prepared
Splitboarding can put demands and stress on your body, so it's important to improve or maintain a good level of fitness before hiking out. Build up your background endurance. In the summer and autumn, training whilst you wait for the snow to arrive will help you enjoy splitboarding a lot more. Hiking, running, mountain biking, cycling, climbing, swimming and stretching regularly will all be beneficial.
Image source: Penny Schröder-Smith
- Keep it simple by choosing a gentle route to start with. This helps to introduce you to the equipment (to put skins on and take them off, board tip and tail clips, manage the bindings), and skin technique up (further down).
- Go out accompanied by a guide or someone experienced in splitboarding. A lot can be learnt by observing, asking and listening to.
- Your downhill snowboarding ability should be intermediate on piste: absolutely comfortable on blue and red runs, pretty solid on red runs and nearby off-piste.
- Be safe. Read up on being safe in the mountains to help you follow basic rules such as checking the weather and avalanche hazard levels before heading out and always tell someone where are you going.
Dial in your skinning technique
To save your energy and make it easier and more enjoyable, there are a few basic skin up technique tips you should always bear in mind:
- Slide, rather than lift, your skis.
- Master the kick turn. You must practice and improve this technique as much as possible. It's the best way to turn on steeps!
- Hold your ski poles higher to get balance but even more to propel yourself. Use your arms to support your legs.
- Manage your binding’s different heel piece positons: flatter – middle – higher, depending upon the slope incline. Most of the time, you will skin up on the middle position of the heel piece. This mid-step provides you much better grip for traverse lines. Keep the following in mind; low track angles will make you more energy efficient and allow to you to go up on the middle position of the heel piece.