Splitboarding in Central Colorado
Backcountry touring and secret stash slashing deep in the Gunnison National Forest
Graham Hiemstra, Eric Greene
Contax T2, Yashica T4, Leica M3
Kodak Portra400, Ultramax 400, T-Max 100
A decade ago, 100 day seasons were the norm. Now, I’m lucky if I get a handful. Same goes for TF contributor and former King Snow Magazine editor Eric Greene. But so goes life in NYC. So, each year a pilgrimage is made to satiate the urge to get back on a snowboard in a legit territory (no offense Mountain Creek, NJ). Last year we hit Powder Mountain, Utah, and Jackson Hole the year before. Since we seem drawn to the region, we went for Central Colorado this time around. Gunnison-Crested Butte to be exact.
While a few days ripping groomers and hiking sidecountry lines at the resort were surely in order, we kicked off the trip with a splitboard tour, headed up by our pal and Crested Butte mainstay Mike Horn, and The Homie Kyle from Cold Smoke Snowboards, a local manufacturer and one of the raddest dudes around. Those two broke trail while the rest of us tried to remember how to ski while battling a serious altitude adjustment.
Splitboarding has become increasingly popular in recent years, and though Eric and I each have probably spent more hours on a snowboard than 99% of the planet, this was the first serious tour for the two of us—thankfully our crew was full of knowledge, and patience. As far as I’m concerned, splitboarding is it. Eric likened it to surfing. I’d say it was more like backpacking, but with a much better reward. Either way, we’re hooked.
The experience was nothing short of all time. With every type of winter weather rolling through in waves we made our way up the pitch in under three hours, earning a damn fun ~20 minute descent. The lack of riding images tells the real story—it was just too good to stop for a Kodak moment.
(Editors Note: Please only go into the backcountry if you have avalanche training and are with an educated crew. Even for the most experienced among us, it’s no joke out there.)