For several winters now, I've been toying with the idea of getting myself a splitboard - in the hope that I'd still be able to get my slice of the untracked powder cake days after the last snowfall, or at least escape the crowds of tourists increasingly flooding the ski resorts. Time and again I've furtively glanced over to the "other side" - that of those who call a splitboard their own and use it to conquer untouched terrain in seemingly limitless freedom, climbing impressive peaks, followed, of course, by even more impressive descents with face shots guaranteed. Why I have not done it for so long?
Splitboarding from a woman's perspective. A guest article by Marion Schöndorf.
Disclaimer: Originally, the article was supposed to be titled: "Rather untalented human beings (m/f/d) who stare at splitboards" , but that sounded too bulky like a job ad. Therefore, it should be noted at this point that the author is well aware that the ability to intuitively operate a cement mixer correctly or the propensity to lay parquet flooring is not tacked on to the Y chromosome. There are indeed women who take their husbands by the hand in the hardware store and lead them to the right shelf, or who can handle a chainsaw with such confidence that any male offer of help is out of the question, if only for self-protection. Our author also secretly envies these women a bit, because she herself is not one of them. By the way, she is also rather adverse to activities such as sewing, babysitting or baking. In this respect, the following lines are merely the very subjective experience report of a person with two left hands, who also happens to be female...
For several winters now, I've been toying with the idea of getting myself a splitboard - in the hope that I'd still be able to get my slice of the untracked powder cake days after the last snowfall, or at least escape the crowds of tourists increasingly flooding the ski resorts. Time and again I've furtively glanced over to the "other side" - that of those who call a splitboard their own and use it to conquer untouched terrain in seemingly limitless freedom, climbing impressive peaks, followed, of course, by even more impressive descents with face shots guaranteed.
Why I have not done it for so long? I love the mountains, I love snowboarding and I love freeriding the most. What I do not love: tinkering and DIY, interpreting technical instructions, handling screwdrivers in different sizes and shapes as a hobby to call ... Let's make it short: I have two left hands and my technical IQ is below that of a squirrel. As a man, of course, I should not say something like that about a woman because of discrimination and gender talk, but you can still diss yourself.
The occasional excursion into various splitboard self-help forums reinforced my impression that the prototypical splitboarder is ideally male, owner of a well-stocked garage aka man cave and passionate DIY devotee. My technical expertise, however, is exhausted in the occasional tightening of the 4x4 binding screws of the baseplate with the tools kindly provided by the ski resorts at their so-called service stations.
|Once again all clichés confirmed: Men tinker in garage, women drink beer.|
However, I wanted to be a splitboarder. How hard can it be?
I decided to take the adventure and I wanted to work it out on my own. Without "all inclusive splitboard yoga girls only" camp. Without Mr. Know-It-All, who takes all the components including screwdriver out of my hand and puts everything together in a jiffy before he has to watch it even longer.
After I had familiarized myself with the matter in theory for what felt like long enough, I more or less spontaneously purchased my first board, the Jones Dreamcatcher, which I had already fallen in love with the year before based solely on the descriptions and reviews. I was curious whether this crush would withstand an extensive practical test and getting to know the inner values. Fortunately, since it was a test board, matching skins were already included. Cutting the skins by myself would have been too challenging for me as a first exercise, especially since mistakes here can be really expensive. At the same time, after much deliberation about which binding it should be, I bought a Voilé Womens Speed Rail and in my exuberance I also ordered Voilé Pucks (canted) and the matching crampons. Until I realized that on the board pucks were already pre-mounted... but from Spark, with aluminum and classic, not canted. I decided to use this immediately for a first test, which pucks harmonized better with the Voilé binding. Supposedly, both brands should fit. I remembered a Youtube video in which a splitboarder had to work on the pucks with the file for an hour before she could slide her binding (which was from another manufacturer) on it without any problems. I would have liked to spare me something like that, it was fortunately not necessary - the Voilé binding could be pushed reasonably over the Spark Pucks. The whole action felt pretty jerky and not very smooth, especially when dismounting, but maybe that was just due to my lack of routine. Since the pucks were goofy mounted, I had to unscrew them anyway and adjust them to me. So I immediately grabbed the Voilé ones, which were supposed to be the ones anyway. Then I practiced the whole conversion action in both directions a few times in the safe and warm living room, thinking to myself: if I can't do it there, I'd better not do it to myself on a 20 cm wide storm-ridden summit ridge with half-frozen fingers. My pride grew immeasurably when, even without outside help or Youtube tutorials, I managed to move the binding from hike to ride mode on my own. That was really the icing on the cake and now nothing could stop me in my splitboarding career!
|Left: skin care with frozen fingers. Could also be due to the lack of gloves. Right: #earnyourturns - You can't repeat it often enough.|
Conclusion: Almost one year and about 10 tours later
I can also pull off the climbing skins in a snowstorm and fold them up so they can be reused without a second thought. (But sometimes I curse quietly while doing so).
I can also transition my split on a steep slope without loosing it. (But I'm not unhappy if my touring partner helps me to secure items of my kit. If he's already there anyway, he can also gladly help with pushing the sometimes unexpectedly stiff binding into ride mode, otherwise I have to curse again).
I can fold my extremely stiff climbing wires up and down by myself. (To do this, I use my pole as a lever, thereby destroying the foam rubber sheathing of the handle. But hey, it's just a pole).
Cold fingers are also part of the business. Damn cold fingers. It may also be due to the outside temperatures, I am not writing these lines in the sunny firn season, but in the darkest time of the year, in the Raunächten with double-digit minus temperatures on the mountain.
|Left: Nice snow, freezing cold. Right: No snow, but you can shred in a T-shirt. Almost an all year sport.|
But that all this was even more worthwhile than I had originally hoped for became clear to me in the winter of 20/21: Splitboarding itself is great anyway. It's great to access the mountain with your own muscle power (hashtag earnyourturns), it's great to be able to escape crowded ski resorts with Jerry alert and of course the best of all are fantastic lines in untouched powder in front of magnificent alpine scenery. But in the winter of 20/21 something else happened: Splitboarding became an absolute necessity for most people who even wanted to make a turn in the snow, and a splitboard became a possession that could not be outweighed in gold.
I'm so glad I jumped on the splitboarding bandwaggon in time.
|The reward - No words needed.|