THIS IS AN INCOMPLETE DOCUMENT OF MY ADVICE FOR MY SPLITBOARD
Planning and executing backcountry tours
The Swiss winter backcountry bible, Bergsport Winter, hereafter
referred to as die Bibel (said like dee beebel), tells you to plan
your hike up by adding a tenth the vertical meters to the horizontal
kilometers and then divide that number by four. This will tell you
the hours you'll need to get to your goal. Why divide by four? This
assumes you need fifteen minutes to walk one kilometer or climb up
100 meters. One can consider these numbers as units, a hiking unit.
A horizontal kilometer is a hiking unit; 100 vertical meters is a
hiking unit. Needing 15 minutes per hiking unit works pretty well on
average, but depends on the conditions.
Good conditions are:
The previous hikers laid a well chosen skin track.
The skin track is packed and grippy.
The temperature allows you to take few breaks i.e. drink
Good physical conditioning of the hikers.
Less optimal conditions are:
You are laying track, possibly in deeper snow.
Track is icy or poorly chosen.
High temperatures or strong sunshine make you sweat and take
more breaks, and the snow may stick to your skins.
Strong sun on fresh powder will make snow stick to your
Conditions require ski crampons.
You lose your way.
Breaks take too long.
You or members of your party can not properly regulate
climate and are too hot or cold.
Study the weather predictions as if your life depended on it.
Accurately predicting weather in mountainous regions is very
difficult. Nonetheless, the weather predictions in winter are
usually highly accurate and can be accurate up to 3-4 days
beforehand. Springtime weather is very difficult to predict, even up
to the last minute. Be more cautious in spring; trust the weather
Traverses are by far my favorite war to experience the mountains.
Every moment in the mountains requires attention, but traverses
demand even more presence. When you don't ride down where you walked
up, you know less about the conditions that await you. Plan
alternate scenarios in case it is too dangerous to carry out your
It is important to plan and draw out your exact route for the hike
up on a high resolution map (1:25000). The more time you put into
knowing your route beforehand, the faster you will be and the less
chance that you will put yourself or others at risk.
Lastly, some words of wisdom. You carry the responsiblity to manage
three resources accurately: time, energy, and morale. Always
consider these three as you continuously evaluate the conditions on
2 (elastic) straps for fastening various things
For example: A-frame on backpack, cinch boot heels to Phantom rocket
risers, fasten shovel stem to a broken pole.
Multi-tool with various Torx, Phillips, Hex, and flathead bits
Be a real Hero.
Helmet with EN1077 & CE12694 certification
You invest a lot of your effort & time into your head. Why skimp on
a helmet? MIPS may also save you a concussion. Ride scared or wear a
Getting lost is part of backcountry travel. Redundant systems to
regain your bearings provide justified peace of mind…
consider models with transparent housing and rulers denoting
steepness classes and distances for common high-resolution (1:25000)
Packable, light insulating jacket
Someone may get cold.
May come in handy.
5m of 6mm cordage
3m of 5mm cordage
Emergency sleeping bag for two
Weighs little, could save lives.
at least cold-, water- & shock-resistant.
consider your cell phone service coverage when choosing your
carry an additional battery on multi-day tours
put your phone in airplane mode, unless absolutely necessary.
It's the most versatile clothing article. Make it into a beanie,
keep the wind off your neck, make it into a sweatband
high-resolution (1:25000) map of your target region
consider a transparent, water-proof bag for your map
Make up for the added weight by putting snow in your tea.
Simple screw-caps tend to retain heat better and be more durable.
Cleaning is also easier.
In addition to being good for finding a buried comrade, it is handy
for measuring snow depth or marking a location, say if your buddy
falls into a crevasse and you have to leave to .
Avalanche shovel with telescopic handle
If it doesn't have a good metal blade and handle, you probably don't
have a decent chance to dig someone out alive.
Ice climbing gloves
Durable gloves for hiking up are not the ones marketed for hiking
up. Ice climbing gloves are durable and available in warmer and
cooler versions, for example.
the goofier you look, the better it protects you from the sun.
Realize that you are a tourist. It's ok. We are all guests.
It can be good to have proper tool with you. There are some very
light versions for easier alpine tours. Be wary of shovel-axe
combination tools. What happens if you lose your ice axe somehow?
This is a very personal thing. I suggest answering the following
questions to help guide you to find the right board for you.
Length: In my opinion this characteristic is overrated. If the
conditions are safe for touring, the snow has settled and you
don't sink in like you do at the resort on a powder day. What is
a length of you powder board? Consider choosing a little shorter
or the same length.
Width: The wider the split ski, the less force you can apply on
your edges when hiking. The narrower the board the more your
toes and heels can dig in when turning. On steep icy slopes,
this can be dangerous. Do you ride steep, icy slopes
occasionally? Consider choosing a wider board.
Sidecut radius: The smaller the radius, the less stable the
board is at higher speeds. Furthermore, when traversing up or
down, a board with a sidecut radius less than 10m needs to bend
significantly to fully engage the edge. On the way down that
means that you can't traverse over to other spots like your
skier firends. On the way up, you have less edge hold when on a
steeper slope. The only decent argument for a smaller radius is
having a more playful board and say being able to navigate dense
trees. The latter are also strong arguments, though. What's your
Stiffness: Higher lateral stiffness improves edge hold and
higher stability at speed. It also makes it harder to transition
from edge to edge. Higher longitudinal stiffness makes for
better skin tracks and higher stability at speed. Both of these
reduce the playfulness of the board and lower speeds. What's
your style of riding?
Varia: Topsheets that shed snow, make a board lighter in
practice. There is no consensus on the effectiveness of a
serrated edge to improve edge hold. However, lateral stiffness
and a large sidecut radius improve edge hold. How much edgehold
do you need? Lighter boards tend to be thinner and less durable.
How many hundreds of days do you want to ride your board?
The Phantom splitboard bindings are still the best. I won't get into a
religious war. Alpine touring boots enable easy movement in the
backcountry. Snowboarding with these light and flexible boots is awesome
too. Soft boots on the otherhand are dangerous and heavy.
Isolated Flask with hot liquids
Why carry tons of water when you are surrounded by it? The amount of
water you can melt with your tea is significant. You also don't have
to wait for your tea to cool.