Reaching a heaven on earth

Every year there is new technology forming within the snowboard community. The latest trend in the board sport world is splitboarding. Splitboarding has slowly made its way to Alaska and has rapidly spiked interest in the last couple years. With low snow seasons, snowboarders have been looking for another solution to be able to once again hit the powdery slopes.

A splitboard is essentially a snowboard that can be separated into two skis with rearranging bindings, that has attachable climbing skins to create traction on mountains the same way touring skis can, then being able to reach back country areas and reattaching the two ski-like parts back into a snowboard and ride terrain that has rarely been traveled.

This has become a big deal for Alaskans, considering the fact we are surrounded by perfectly snowy mountains. Splitboarding is drawing in many boarders in the community who are looking for more than just a resort to ride. Ryan Bish, Blue and Gold Boardshop employee and third-year splitboarder, is one of many who found a love for backcountry.

Hiking up back country after separating splitboard into skis. Photo credit: Ryan Bish

“With lower snowfall totals and high ticket prices, I think that more people are being pushed into going into the splitboard route because they want to go out with their group of friends to be able to practice their awesome skills, because when you’re out in the back country, it’s a lot better than just a resort,” Bish said.

Snowboarders have always been attracted to back country, but it wasn’t as available for people who don’t have access helicopters, or just wasn’t worth the trek carrying heavy equipment up the mountain. Matt Yoder, splitboarder, reasons why he decided splitboarding was the logical route.

“I grew up at the base of Hatcher Pass in Palmer post holding hiking, which is a theme to work and earn your turns, I later got snowshoes, and even on a fast day you’ll get lapped by anyone on skins and splits,” Yoder said, “To me, splitboarding just made the most sense for back country access because your board is on your feet going up instead of on your back.”

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Another reason why people are straying from resorts is the prices.

“Yeah, you may have bought a $1,200 splitboard, but you don’t have to pay $70 each weekend to go snowboarding, you’ll maybe pay $5 for parking and that’s it,” Bish said.

Resorts are not only expensive but also limited. When going to a resort, there is a general idea about how your experience will be. Splitboarding will not only push you out of your comfort zone, but it gives you a new experience every time.

“It’s the cheaper way to go and you get to learn some really awesome things about yourself because you’re going out of your comfort zone, trying something new, going to new places, sometimes with new people, so it’s a really good way to try these new experiences,” Bish said.

Although splitboarding rapidly picking up in the community, it is anticipated that this sport will continue to increase in popularity by lovers of the outdoors. Splitboarding is unlike any boarding experience because of its freedom. Like many extreme sports, there are consequences when safety precautions are not practiced.

“I can’t stress enough that everyone take very seriously the potentially fatal consequences in the back country,” Yoder said. “Have appropriate back country gear such as an airbag, beacon, inclinometer, know how to use it and take avalanche courses, you can never know enough when it comes to avalanche country, nature’s casino is no joke.”

Matt Yoder on top of the mountain after splitboarding his way up. Photo credit: Matt Yoder

Blue and Gold Boardshop provides various avalanche safety courses throughout the winter to spread awareness. Safety equipment is demonstrated and available for purchase at this local shop. Splitboarding has its dangers like any other sport; safety knowledge is always preferred. With this knowledge, it is encouraged to get out and splitboard the back country.

“More people should splitboard, it’s sick, and most importantly fun,” Bish said.

With the possibly of low snowfalls, especially at resorts, back country is a reliable source of fresh powder. Splitboarding provides an efficient way to access unexplored, untouched, snow to experience a heaven on earth.