Snowboarding is a sport of blessed simplicity. One plank. Two edges. Clean lines. But the critical element is the clean lines. From ski-resort brochures to Warren Miller movies, all we ever see are untracked vistas populated by solitary riders who might have simply dropped out of the heavens.
So how can you get to that untracked snow stash? Most ski resorts are surrounded by miles of wilderness, offering the same chutes, bowls, and tree glades, with none of the crowds. This is what we lovingly refer to as “the backcountry.” And to get there, you’ll want a splitboard — basically a snowboard that splits in two in order to function as a pair of touring skis. No more humping it up the hill with your board on your back while skiers push past you, snickering.
Factory-built splitboards are available, but they’re expensive ($600–$1,200 without bindings). If you have an extra board, a prefab kit is available from venerable telemark and splitboard maker Voilé. A number of specialized parts are available only from Voilé, so it’s easiest to just purchase the kit. Due to the tremendous abuse that snowboard equipment is subjected to, the connections and hardware must be very durable. Nothing spells trouble like damaged equipment deep in the backcountry.
WARNING: The consequences and risks of bodily harm, as well as avalanche danger, only increase as you move away from the patrolled boundaries of ski resorts and rescue personnel. Know your limits, get basic avalanche training (AIARE Level 1), and carry avalanche rescue equipment.