Driving over the hill to chase some warm sunshine and tacky singletrack down in Auburn the other day, I couldn’t help notice some patches of snow up on Boreal’s slopes. Now, they’re just testing their guns and I won’t be one of the first in line to crush the couple hundred feet of snow broken up with rails when “opening day” comes along in a few weeks. But winter is coming, and it’s coming soon. My favorite winter activity is splitboarding, and I want to focus on 2 of the most necessary pieces of my setup for this post.
The Boots – K2 Aspect
It all starts with the feet. If your feet aren’t comfortable, you’ll have a bad day. If your feet hurt in your boots, you’ll have a short day. If your feet are sloshing around in your boots, the ride down won’t be what you want. The K2 Aspect boot might be the most important part of my setup, because they make the way up comfortable and the way down as responsive as I need it to be.
I LOVE the fact that they used a single boa and complemented it with laces. The laces help make the liability in the backcountry disappear and keep things simple when needed, and the boa gives you the tension you want to ratchet your foot in for charging down the most committing lines.
K2 also put in some very appreciated (by this rider, anyway) “splitboard mountaineering” features – a reinforced toe for kicking steps and a rear gusset for semi-automatic crampon compatibility. When I want to kick steps without spikes on, the boot holds up. When I want to throw on the spikes, I know they’ll stay where I need em. Lastly, the sole is a Vibram collaboration and the tread supports those short scrambles sometimes required to get on top of your biggest couloirs.
If you’re a backcountry-centric rider and want the lateral flex to rail turns on the way down (classic K2/Pacific-Northwest style) with the support to climb committing terrain and know that your boot won’t let you down, checking out the Aspect is worth your time.
The Board – Weston Backwoods
My go-to split these days is the Weston Backwoods. I’d trust my life to this board in any terrain, and it would be at home in any freeride competition in the world. Make no mistake – this is a stiff, stable, big mountain destroyer. Riders that ride mountains (not hills) will love it. Bigger guys will appreciate how supportive and responsive it is. All that being said, if you’re a lighter rider or a freestyler, riding the Backwoods might feel like you’re piloting a yacht when you’re looking for a speedboat.
The torsional stiffness makes turning so predictable, which is everything for me. I need to be able to set my watch by what my board will do. The vertical stiffness is as close to “over the top” as I can put up with (I only weigh 150 lbs), but the tradeoff is worth it – load up your back leg before those airs and this thing ollies to the moon. That same stiffness negates any chop you might run into after stomping those airs, and if I knew I absolutely had to land an air and straightline out at Mach 3, I’d want this board on my feet.
The rockered nose is appreciated on deep days, but the flex pattern really shines in the skintrack. The camber underfoot helps your skis glue to the snow and makes slipping out of the track a thing of the past. We spend 95% of our time splitboarding in “ski” mode on the way up, and this board makes that part of the ride a comfortable and enjoyable experience.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to enhance your riding experience this winter and push your game in the backcountry, check out the K2 Aspect and the Weston Backwoods Split! See you out on the skintrack.
Want to try Splitboarding? Click here to read more!
Working as a fitness professional since 2006, Chris has built a brand working with athletes of all backgrounds – from Olympians to aspiring youth. He currently trains athletes at Performance Training Center in Truckee, CA.
Chris is an avid “lifestyle” cyclist and a full-time bike commuter, and has applied his love of cycling to the greater good. In 2009, Chris founded the TakeYourBike project, a non-profit committed to spreading commuter-cycling advocacy in metropolitan areas here in the United States. Chris and a handful of other TYB teammates pedaled from Vancouver, BC to Tecate, Mexico – a 3-country bike tour – to help illustrate the viability of the bicycle as a vehicle of transportation and the amazing experiences you can find on two wheels.
Chris is also a former professional musician, and although he’ll tell you he’s washed up now, he still stays active in the music world and supports a number of artists on upright and electric bass.
Of course, as a full-time resident of the Lake Tahoe community, Chris is hopelessly addicted to snowboarding and backcountry touring, and spends as much time as possible out in our great Sierra wilderness in the winter months.
Follow him @_trashtalk