[This article originated with a letter from a reader, the info was too good to wait on for the Mail column, so here it is.]
I thought I would just drop a quick line to tell you that the most recent issue is absolutely killer. You said it, an interview, splitboarding and travel issue all together. Much appreciation for featuring the Mt. Whitney article. As a backcountry enthusiast, it’s pretty awesome to have you guys give some attention to alternate methods of backcountry travel. Quick question though, you quoted Josh Dirksen talking about his ‘homemade’ splitboard and that it ripped pretty well. Could you hook some information about the homemade-ness of his setup and how he did it? Thanks alot. Keep up the good work.
Glad to hear that you liked the new issue of TransWorld, the idea of splitboarding, and the idea of making your own splitboard. My friends and I all had a great time contributing to the issue as well as personally making all of our splitboards. The splitboards we made opened up a lot of new terrain for us last year. There’s no doubt that cutting a perfectly good snowboard in half is a bit scary, but keep in mind it’s much easier than you think. So far, I have seen about 20 homemade splitboards, and in the end all of them rode really well and held together just fine. Of course, some of them came out prettier than others, but luckily it is not a beauty contest.
To make a splitboard you will need a board and bindings, the Volle kit ($150) and a set of skins ($100).
If you plan on making your own splitboard, I think it’s important to find a board that is durable and rides well in the pow (longer length, big nose, solid contruction). Once you drill all of the holes for your splitboard bindings there’s no real way to change your stance so make sure you have the correct stance locked in before you start cutting. The board that I rode on the cover of TWS was a 6 month old Salomon Sick Stick 163. I already had the perfect stance setup and I knew that board liked to rally in the pow.
The next step is cutting the board in half from the tip to tail, which is done using a circular saw and a steady hand. Feel free to get some help on this step if needed. All of the other steps you can confidently do by yourself, but the slicing seems to be the most important step. You just want to make sure it’s pretty much a straight line. So, just clamp the board securely on a table, draw an even line down the center of the base with a magic marker and get ready to chop. I personally start out by sawing a small 1/4 inch swallow tail through the edge on the tail and nose with a hack saw because it looks cool and it gives the circular saw a cleaner cut.
The next step is purchasing the Volle homemade splitboard kit. There are instruction in the box with everything you need to get the job done. My advice for putting the board back together is finding a quality epoxy that stays flexible in cold conditions. If you pick some up at the local hardware store, it will most likely slowly chip off over the season. No harm done, but it just looks bad. The best idea is to go down to your local snowboard or ski shop and see if they have an idea of a durable and flexible epoxy that you could purchase from them or order online. You don’t need much, just a thin layer of epoxy over all the exposed wood.
The final step, is taking your fresh new splitboard into the backcountry to get all of the blower pow that nobody else seems to want. There’s plenty to go around. Just make sure you choose areas that are closed to motor vehicles, there’s no reason trying to outrun a couple of your buddies on their snowmobiles. Also remember to bring a friend, avalanche tranciever, probe, shovel and most importantly the knowledge to use them all. Have fun and stay safe.
See you out there,