27. December 2020    

What could be better than going splitboarding or ski touring with your kids? But what is the best way to start without overtaxing the little ones or spoiling their fun on the first tour? When is the optimal age to start touring? You have probably already asked yourself all these questions if you have children and like to go on tour in the mountains.

What could be better than going splitboarding or ski touring with your kids? But what is the best way to start without overtaxing the little ones or spoiling their fun on the first tour? When is the optimal age to start touring? You have probably already asked yourself all these questions if you have children and like to go on tour in the mountains.

We have also asked ourselves these questions and then just tried it. THen we alked to personalities like Jeremy Jones or Tommy Delago from Nitro about the topic and recorded it in a video.

Here are my personal learnings on the subject - as always, having fun is the most important thing.
My son Erik has been passionate about both snowboarding and skiing from the beginning. After he reached a certain level at age 6, he started asking all by himself, "Dad, when are we going on a splitboard tour?" At that time I tell him when you are a little bigger. If you want we can play avalanche transceiver hide and seek! Yes, was Erik's answer. With this statement I did not hesitate for a long time but made two avalanche transceivers ready to go. Erik got one and I hid one. First in the apartment, then in the forest and finally, when he was already 7, on the mountain. So my son grew playfully into the use of the avalanche transceiver. I showed him the other safety devices such as shovel and probe, but there was not yet so much interest. 

Whenever we were together on the mountain, I used the time besides the snowboard fun to tell Erik a few little things about slope inclination, snow conditions, dangers on the mountain and so on. Because it is important to me that he is consciously on the mountains and also knows the dangers. I am glad that he has the opportunity to "grow into" the subject.

But now to the questions:

When is the optimal age to start touring? In my opinion, it varies from child to child. However, it is important that a certain physical condition, an appropriate level in snowboarding or skiing is present and the fun of movement is given. Then you can also start at the age of 7.

What do I do at the beginning? I sensize the kid for the fun and joy of the sport. You can simply play with the child in the snow, make longer sledging trips or simply winter hikes. If the child then really wants to start touring it is first of all about the material. For splitboarding, the binding is currently a challenge. I have taken the smallest splitboard binding from Spark and built short highbacks and straps from a children's snowboard binding on it. This works very well. From Nitro there is a splitboard since this season, the Miniganger with a length of 132 cm. For ski touring, there is, for example, from Kochalpin the binding adapter StartUp. Otherwise, normal snowboard clothing and shoes and then the fun can start. Skins can be easily adapted. For the skis, I shortened old skins of mine and cut them narrower. Also for the Miniganger I first cut old skins from me and adapted. 

The first day of the tour: the weather should be nice, the sun should shine and the trail should be neither too long nor too demanding. Nevertheless, it is important to make something special out of this day, which is a lot of fun. We wanted to find untracked snow and climb a small peak with few people. It was about 300 HM. The day was wonderful and the snow conditions perfect. So we first went up with the lift, made a few descents and at noon after lunch we went to our tour starting point to start the tour. Everyone took care of his material. This we had already practiced at home. Because bringing bindings from ride to split mode and putting on the skins is best practiced in a warm, cozy living room, perhaps with a great snowboard video in the background.

On the mountain, the binding conversion and the skins were a bit more difficult than at home, so I helped my son. After that was done, we did the obligatory avalanche beacon check, even though the terrain was anything but avalanche or unsafe that day.  Erik put the avalanche transceiver in his pants, firmly attached to it. He did not yet carry a backpack. All the important things like water, shovel, probe, granola bars, gummy bears and of course warm tea with honey I had with me.

Now we're off. I go the first few meters ahead and show my son how to make turns and change direction. I also show him the hairpin technique for motivation. After my son got used to walking in the powdery white, I let him go ahead to have him permanently in view and to be able to tell him something. The goal is in sight and also within reach. Leisurely we walk up, laugh, let other tourers pass us, chat a bit with them, well, the things you just do on splitboard or ski tour so. We have a good time. After about 30 minutes of walking Erik starts to say the first time: "Dad, can we go down soon I want to go to the fun park again!" My answer yes sure, let's do two more hairpin turns and then we go back down. After two more hairpin turns we stop, eat something, drink a warm tea and get ready to go down. We didn't make it to the top, but there was a descent waiting for us that we wouldn't have made if we hadn't been running, and the best part was that it was almost untracked and the snow was knee deep for my son.

I would have liked to go a little further up, but this was Erik's first tour and so I let him do it. On the descent we talked about the line, I then went ahead and positioned myself with the camera. Now it's Erik's turn and he doesn't miss the chance to fully enjoy the run (you can watch a part of the run in the video).

Arriving at the bottom, my son's first words are: "I want to go splitboarding again soon, but for now I want to go back to my friends". I think I was at least as happy and stoked as my son and we are already looking forward to the next splitboard adventure together.

To sum up:

  1. Physical fitness and appropriate level of skiing or snowboarding is elementary
  2. Choose a tour that suits the child's ability and also includes one or two great features (small waterfall, summit, great view, gummy bears at the finish, brilliant snow, whatever comes to your mind), the children must not get bored uphill!
  3. Give as little as possible, let the children discover - but guide them.
  4. Give them the necessary security they need on their first discovery tour (of course).
  5. The child carries as little as possible, but has the avalanche transceiver with him!
  6. Take enough food and drink with you, a warm tea works wonders and of course the gummy bears or chocolate.
  7. We are at the finish as soon as the child wants to be at the finish - and if it is after 100 meters!
  8. We enjoy every step, every breath and every moment we can be on the road with our little ones.
  9. After the tour we take care of the physical well-being.  A hot cocoa, a schnitzel or a vegan soup, something that gives the kids the cherry on top of the day ;-)
  10. If they want to go gambling again in the evening, that's fine too, because they've already had enough exercise.
  11. Convince the kid that it doesn't have to wear helmet on the way up :-) :-) :-)

Here is our video in which Jeremy Jones and Tommy Delago talk about splitboarding with kids:

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to post them here under the post. 

We wish you all super nice tour experiences with your children.