>Scott and I batted around a few ideas for this day. Being that the snow conditions and avy forecast for the Tetons were not all that spectacular, Turbo persuaded me into making the trek into Long Canyon in the Lemhi’s. Sounded like a day of more touring and exploring than that of mega-vertical descending. Anything sounded better than sitting at my computer at work so I was in.
I’ll admit that on the 4 mile approach from the highway, I was pretty damn skeptical of finding anything worthwhile. The snowpack was averaging 4″. However, after leaving the mellow but long approach road, we started breaking trail on more a vertically inclined ridge with deepening snow, which was easy until we hit pure sugar.
Breaking trail on 25º-30º slopes that are pure faceted snow sucks. It is not that the angle is hard, it’s that your skins don’t have anything to bite into. I started thinking to myself that this was one of the reasons I used to frequent the Pass so much – preset skin tracks! Scott was kind enough to take over the main trailbreaking duties after the few short turns I took. This was one lesson I learned on this trip about splitboards (see #2 below).
Our highpoint for the day was around 9,700′. We switched to descent mode and actually found some awesome shots through the trees (see video in post below from Turbo). Scott also pointed out some promising looking bowls in the canyon for future trips.
On the somewhat flat ski out, my legs were starting to fade. I had been touring with a “stubby” pole (I lost a flick-lock on a pole and had to use it fully collapsed all day), forcing me to squat for each pole plant to propel myself. Man, it was like doing squats for an hour non-stop. My chicken legs were a bit wobbly once we got back to the car. A fun day though and I’m thankful for friends that love exploring the BC on skis even more than I do. The board needs some p-texing for sure but that’s the price you pay for exploration.
NOTE: Being that this is my first season on a splitboard, I’m continually learning the art of splitting. On this particular trip with Turbo, I learned a couple of things:
1.) when tree and powder riding, it helps to ride with your poles in hand instead of on your pack. We ended up traversing horizontally in a few spots on Sheep Mtn. that would have normally been problematic sans poles. Plus, it’s much easier to pick yourself up should you fall;
2.) I don’t know how people with splitboards shorter than say, 169 can break trail very well. I’m riding a 171(!) and what I found on this trip was that when in ski mode on the split, the bindings are more centered on the boards than that of skis, making the tips sink in much more on the uphill. I felt like a wuss not being able to break trail very long like I normally could when I’d tele ski. Scott was kind enough in that he didn’t make fun of me, well, vocally anyway!;
3.) riding in hard boots is the way to go if you are serious about doing these types of trips (versus doing laps at Teton Pass using existing skin tracks). I’m still getting used to boarding in hard boots, plus, still getting used to such a long board but the benefits far outweigh the slight nuance of plastic boots. Mainly so in the touring mode.