|Backcountry splitboard and snowboard mountaineering equipment.|
Description: Mountaineering refers to mountain climbing. Snowboard mountaineering, refers to climbing the mountain on/with a snowboard. This is often accomplished by snowshoeing up the mountain and snowboarding down. The introduction of splitboards allows the snowboard to be split into two ski like alpine touring boards which are used for the walk up the mountain, then re-attached together to form a snowboard for the descent. By definition, this endeavor is in the backcountry, outside of the boundaries of a resort.
The equipment one uses and carries is also much different from that used within a ski resort. Avalanche beacons, probes, shovels and rescue gear are essential in unpredictable conditions. The standard snowboard are hardly suitable. A type of snowboard known as a splitboard is used which allows the boarder to move like a skier uphill but then attach them together as a single snowboard for the downhill run. Splitboards use a binding which allows the foot to articulate in an Nordic ski (cross country ski) fashion where the toe is allowed to pivot and the heal is permitted to move up and down to allow one to travel in a natural human walking motion. "Skins" are temporarily applied to the bottom of the boards for the ascent which accommodate a forward slide and resist an aft slide which is encouraged by gravity.
Snowboarders can hike on snowshoes (lots of work) or use a splitboard. The splitboard is a snowboard split into two halves which can act as mountaineering skis to travel up the mountain and then assemble together into a single snowboard to travel down the mountain.
Bindings reattached in cross country ski configuration
Splitboards also require skins to be attached to travel up the mountain without sliding backwards.
Skins are pre-cut to the dimension of a specific ski with angled fibers to enable the ski to slide forward more easily than backward. The skins have a tacky but easily detachable adhesive which allow the skins to stick to the bottom of the skis even with wax. Newer designs use a very smooth rubbery surface which uses suction to enhance the grip. This is an improvement in design as the skins would typically lose tackiness over time and the adhesive is typically not replaceable. The tip and tail of the skins also typically have clips which help attach the skins. A metal loop fits over the point at the front of the ski so that it will not work its way aft. There is usually a clip at the rear but this seems to be optional. The skins are mounted so that a forward sliding motion is enabled but a backward slide is not.
Originally ski skins were made of seal fur but are now made of nylon fabric which allow the ski to slide forward but not backward. While the skins do allow forward travel, they are usually removed for the descent as the ski slides better on its own base material without the skins attached. This system is much more effective than the old "fish scale" surface found on cross country "Nordic" skis. For extreme terrain, ski crampons are also available which have "teeth" which can dig into the ice to maintain traction.
splitboards are like a regular snowboard when the two halves are attached. The attachment is accomplished by latches and by the use of a splitboard binding which holds the two boards on the same plane. When apart, there are edges on each side of each board, just like a ski.
The bindings when in split mode allow for the toe pinned "Walk To Ride" (WTR) mode articulation. When in snowboard mode, the bindings hold the two planks in-plane and rigid. They of course clamp the snowboard boot in place just like any other snowboard binding.
A full list of splitboard manufacturers are listed on our MountainYahoos.com Snowboard equipment Splitboard list of manufacturers
Full length poles are used for the uphill climb and collapsed for the downhill ride.
MountainYahoos.com Ski Poles: poles with arresting features and video of collapsible poles.
Accessory Manufacturers Links:
Also see the MountainYahoos.com guide to Avalanche safety gear and Avalanche training and education.