After a few very windy days in the Australian snowy mountains myself, Safety Dog and Backwards decided that it would be a better idea to give splitboarding (and ski touring for the Backwards dog) a go in the shelter of the trees at Dead Horse Gap.
This was the first time for all of us so we went and hired what we could in Jindabyne. The range was pretty limited in Jindabyne itself, however there is a much larger selection in Cooma at the Rhythm store as we later found out…
In the morning conditions were not looking any better, but despite this (and mostly because we had just hired gear) we headed off to Dead Horse Gap. By the time we arrived there was plenty falling from the skies… as… rain!
After a short walk to the base of the hill we all attached our skins and proceeded to skin up the hill.
The first thing that we noticed was just how easy it was to get going up the hill and the ability to climb reasonably steep sections with ease. Once we were away from the road it was quite an enjoyable hike, and if it wasn’t for the rain and wind would have been worth it just for the trip up!
While the hike up was actually quite enjoyable, the ride down was not what we were expecting. I think this was because of the following:
- The snow quality was pretty average! It was raining and Dead Horse Gap was quite tracked out after what would have been a number of amazing days in the week prior.
- The splitboard and bindings were quite heavy, making it even harder to maneuver the board through some reasonably tight trees on heavy (wet) snow.
- The splitboard bindings that we hired were not splitboard specific – they used the voile adaptor plate system which meant standard bindings were bolted on top of them. This added about 2cm of added height which again did not help with the overall feel of the board
Anyway after our very brief outing my thoughts are now firmly focused on purchasing a splitboard. There are over 80 splitboards on the market today and not a lot of reviews. Backcountry Magazine seem to have reviewed the most splitboards:
- Backcountry Magazines 2014 Editors’ Choice Awards – Splitboards
- Backcountry Magazines 2015 Editors’ Choice Awards – Splitboards
As for the binding system there are far fewer options, however this does seem to be growing every year with exciting new designs appearing all the time. The main options available right now are:
- Spark R&D bindings (uses Voile pucks on to mount the bindings)
- Karakoram bindings (uses their own mounting system)
- Standard bindings with an adapter plate – like we used (uses Voile pucks to mount the bindings)
- K2 did have the Kwicker system (although the link appears to be dead now and nothing appears to be on their website! Also this requires you to use their boots.
- There are other systems for using “Hard boots” i.e.: Skiboots
After our day out I can only assume that using a splitboard specific binding such as the Sparks or Karakorams would be the way to go.
The Sparks are generally a fair bit cheaper (around $350), but you also need to get the pucks, which I think are around the $60 mark.
I think the Karakorams are around the $600-$800 mark… they seem to have some more features but yeah pretty pricey!
Anyway that’s all for now…