Martin (Seili) Seiler is one of the best Freeriders and Splitboarders in Sitzerland. Here he shares his knowledge about Backcountry, Splitboarding and Safety Management.
"Growing up in the heart of the alps in Wallis Switzerland surrounded by all this massive mountains had a big influence in my life. As kids we were chasing the snow with our boards at every free second at weekends or after school on the local hills. Looking back I still remember how fun this was. Since than not much has changed. There might be some stickers from sponsors on my boards now and I travel a lot for snowboarding, but actually I`m still that little, curious kid who likes to shred, discover new places and enjoys being in nature a lot."
If you enter unknown areas (you just know it from the map), how do you manage keeping the risk as low as possible. For example traversing a summit from south to north?
You can already learn a lot of the potential avalanche danger from a map. If you keep in mind all the slopes that you see on a map which have a slope angle of more than 30 degrees you will already know in the backcountry where avalanches could potentially be an issue, so you can adopt your route already at home in your mind in order to choose the less riskiest way. Than when you get to the actual area it is important to keep your eyes open: can you see signs of wind driftet snow?, are there any slides which went down without any additional preassure?, Do you here any whumpf-sounds on the way up? and so on. An important way to reduce your risk in springtime is for sure to move early in the day, especially in south faces. For north faces you should keep in mind that the avalanche danger can be conserved over a long period of time. Increase the distance between you and your hiking buddys in this more critical places in order to put less pressure on the snowpack. In general you should better turn around on time to much, even if the snow would be insane. This and the thought that there is no 100% security out there is for sure a key factor to be safe in the backcountry.
What is your strategy to reduce your risk to the maximum in general? But still beeing able to ride impressive lines.
If I am in a country where this is possible for sure I check the avalanche bulletin for the region and aspect of the line I want to ride. Furthermore if I`m not sure about the snow stability I perform a so called rutschblock test in order to get an idea about the different layers and the stability of the snowpack in general. When it gets to the actual riding I make sure that I wear a peep, carry shovel, probe and an avalanche airbag.
Do you have any suggestions for splitboard beginners or advanced riders regarding the ascent? The descent?
For the ascent it is important to have a good layering system to feel comfortable in any kind of conditions. Sometimes it`s still freezing cold at the bottom when you start and than as soon as the sun pops out it gets super warm, so you rather want to adopt to this then sweating underneath your jacket. My layering system with Penguin is usually a combination of a first layer, a light primaloft jacket for the cold days and a 3 layer hardshell jacket. Despite that you should try to find your rhythm while hiking. It makes your body way less tiered if you go slow and steady for an hour instead of rushing up the hill with breaks every 15 minutes. For the descent there are no rules just go with the flow and do everything that looks safe and is fun!
Martin Seiler big Spray
What Shape do you normally ride, Rocker , Camber or Hybrid?
I ride the new Powder Hybrid shape from Völkl. The Untrac Splitboard comes with a camber shape in between the bindings and a rocker shape in nose and tail. The rocker in nose and tail gives you extra flotation in Powder, but on at the same time the camber supports you with extra traction for icy runs or traverses. That`s the perfect combination for splitboarding!
What would you prefer if you put yourself in the position of a "normal" snowboarder? Some good splitboard routes or some beautiful freeriding days in the skiresort.
I think both of them can be cool as long as you have good snow conditions and a good bunch of people who go shred with you. I`d go ride the resort in the woods after a big dump when it`s still too sketchy to go into the big open fields. But as soon as everything is tracked and I am fed up with liftlines I would grab my splitboard an discover the real backcountry.
Beeing a snowboardpro, what do you prefere a day of heliboarding or splitboarding? Why?
If you want to produce a lot of video or photo material in a short amount of time for sure the helicopter is the more suitable mean of transportation. You can hop from one line to the other in no time and shoot a lot of stuff in just one day. But it is for sure way more stressfull to go shred with a helicopter than with a splitboard, because due to the fact that every minute in a heli is freaking expensive you don`t have a lot of time to choose your lines. With splitboarding there is no such rush at all. Everything is more relaxed and you really get the time to become familiar with the mountain you want to ride. On the way up you can feel differences in the snow an learn a lot about the snowpack you will ride down later on. From this point of view accessing a face with your splitboard is for sure less stressful and you don`t become fat neither.
How would you describe a splitboarding day with your friends in 1 sentence?
Usually it is most probably a freaking blast with a bunch of laughing and shralping powder or spring slush out in the big white mountains.
Thanks Martin Seiler for the interview and your motivation!
Sponsors: Völkl, Swany, Marker, Penguin, Deeluxe, Flux, Hä?, Different