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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Monday, January 04, 2010

Splitboarding is Catching On in Utah's Backcountry

The New York Times has this interesting article about splitboarding. The article describes a splitboarding trip through Utah backcountry, and gives tips for people interested in getting into the sport. Below are excerpts.

For snowboarders without the budget or inclination to use a snowmobile or helicopter, and in places where motorized vehicles are prohibited, splitboarding has exploded as the best way to ride beyond a resort’s boundaries.

Splitboards are specialized snowboards that separate into a pair of mountain touring skis; they are equipped with a mounting kit that allows standard bindings to switch from a sideways snowboard stance to a forward-facing, free-heeled touring-ski operation. Add collapsible ski poles and climbing skins (a fabric attached to the touring skis to give traction as you ascend steep slopes), and the splitboard gives snowboarders the freedom to travel anywhere that a backcountry skier can.

Mount Tuscarora was my first splitboard experience. At the base of the climb in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Mr. Coulter demonstrated how to split the board in half, fasten the bindings in ski mode and attach the climbing skins. Two hours later we reached the summit. (I’d hiked the same route by foot earlier in the winter, and it had taken almost twice as long.)

We completed the tour by riding down the Big Cottonwood side, returning to Salt Lake City on the No. 960 bus, part of a municipal system that serves the area. It was about a 20-minute ride.

“There’s this whole loop you can do with the bus system that’s amazing,” said Mr. Downing, who described busing up one canyon, touring over and catching the bus back down the other canyon at the end of the day. “You never have to ride at a ski resort if you don’t want to, or you can go to a resort, take one lift up and access all that backcountry.”

Note: Avalance danger is high right now in Utah's backcountry. Check here for current information and avalanche advisories.

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