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Quality over Quantity



Quit complaining about the approach.  In college I would paddle 30 minutes across an inlet rumored to be a hammerhead breading ground just to get to a remote island to surf.  After crossing the island and paddling out to the surf, sometimes we had to paddle for hours just to stay in the same spot only to catch one wave that lasted 5 seconds on the longer end.  Usually, those days ended with a choppy battle back across the inlet lasting upwards of 45 minutes.

Almost 5 hours of paddling for 5 seconds of eye stinging bliss.

When I consider approaching lines on skins, the comparison almost seems comical.  People skinning are listening to headphones, smoking bowls, making jokes…yet still commenting on their skin to ride ratio being too high.  “Dude, we just skinned 2 hours for only 20 minutes of riding.”  Coming from a surf background, I would kill for a full 20 minutes of surfing.  Recently, a friend of mine just embarked on a mission to surf 100 waves a day for a month.  With the average ride being somewhere in the 6 second mark, that adds up to 10 minutes of surfing in what took about 8 hours of paddling…and he was Stoked! ( See more on how James fared with his goal to raise money for cancer HERE)

The point here is that snowboarders (and skiers) tend to be spoiled and out of shape.  Most surfers  I knew were obsessive about fitness and nutrition.  Yet, most snowboarders are popping beers before first chair.  To really enjoy the backcountry, one’s perspective must be juxtaposed.  As the resorts get busier, stashes less secret, and rules more oppressive, a day in the skintrack should be looked at more of an escape and less of an Epic Mix count.  Not to mention, bottomless untouched lines top dust on resort crust any day.  So to many of us avid powder hounds, two laps in our favorite empty zone is often more satisfying than playing frogger on the resort.

From an physiological standpoint, this makes sense.  When you are in your own zone, pushing your body and enjoying nature, your brain produces more neurochemicals than when you are cruising the slow zones in the family area.  Waves of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin jazz you up and stoke you out all at the same time, leaving a smile on your face and a buzz in your brain that will hopefully last for days.  While this article isn’t meant to discredit the fun of lap shredding on the resort with the crew, it is meant to outline that the groomers and the grind are two separate parties.

It is the difference of going to the movies to see the new Bond film or bingeing on Netflix for a night.  The difference between a meal at your favorite steakhouse or wing night at your local pub.  Hell, the difference between a lunchtime quickie or that slow like Sunday morning kind of thing ( wink wink).  The point is, all of these things are great, but the pace and enjoyment are all on different levels.  I love eating 20 wings at a time, but also am pretty happy to slow down when the nice steak is on the menu.  So next time you hear your bro (or gal) complain about time in the skintrack, tell them we don’t want to share our steak with them anyways!  And if you feel yourself dragging, just be grateful you aren’t paddling 2 hours for 3 waves.  Remember, this is the backcountry, the effort is the reward, the quality outweighs the quantity.


Technical Author’s note:  I love shred laps, surfing, wings, quickies and Netflix…probably in that order.


  • Spring can be a confusing time in the high country.  In a "normal" year, the snow would just now be melting, while at the same time spring storms would bring fresh snowfall to the valley's unwilling residents.  It is in the spring we see the mass exodus out of the valley, each migrant with their own particular set of reasons.  For many, spring simply doesn't provide income, so the seasonal worker goes on hiatus at their beach of choice.  Others may have enjoyed one too many happy hours, and feel the need to run from their skeletons hidden in their boardbags, while those inclined to continue winter make the voyage to Alaska. There is never an exact time when we learn to let go of winter.  The pro athletes paint the picture of perpetual snow adventures, but even when utilizing the southern hemisphere, there is still going to be a draw period.  And here comes the kicker of our position at the Split Life, where we are not only committed to the double edged sword of the resort and the backcountry, splitboards and solid boards, but also the double life we lead as mountain residents between summer and winter.  It does't seem to matter which season you love more, or what reason you stayed in the mountains, the seasons will change.  The general majority takes the change in stride, some force it, and some avoid it.  As for the later, the pain is easy to empathize with if you love snowboarding.  But when it comes down to it, you don't want to be the one wearing your tall tee in the middle of summer (or ever for that matter) looking like a fool trying to hike a 14er and falling because you have t-shirt stuck on your knee. The reality is that there are so many parallels in each season, that our actions in one season can correlate to the next fairly seamlessly.  Our main focus in the summer tends to be mountain biking.  When compared to splitboarding, you can easily find aspects that will not only relate to one another, but also benefit each other.  When put into perspective, the average splitboarder (or skier) is using their skins to help access terrain that would be great for ripping down.  In essence, so is a mountain biker.  The exercise is great, but what keeps the masses coming back for more is the thrill of the downhill, the smile you get when you reach the bottom.  Not only do both sides of the spectrum relate to the downhill, but also the uphill, where about 70-90% of your work is done in both splitting and biking.  And whether or not you are more dedicated to one or the other, there is no denying that there are obvious benefits to each.  In particular, keeping your mind engaged with biking definitely allows you to continue your spacial awareness needed for snow, let alone maintaining physical shape Seasonal changes will always play an integral role in our lives, both metaphorically and literally.  We will always have to go through lean seasons and plentiful seasons, "in" seasons and "off" seasons, good times and bad times.  There will always be times of need and moments of truth, which somehow will always ride the coattails of your greatest successes and your most hidden failures.  We can only hope that our friends, family, and backcountry partners alike will be there for us during those times.  Yet, as in all sides of life, there will always be plenty of naysayers and judgemental peanut galleries that will go against your grain.  It is up to us to deal with those abrasions, and learn to deal with seasons as they come.  Since the only predictable aspect to life is the sheer notion of life's unpredictability, our role in society is to adapt and to ebb and flow with each "season."  People often say it isn't how one acts upon their success, but how they react to personal failure.  You won't always impress everyone, or gain the support of your loved ones, but you can always show true strength by how you develop from the process. As summer continues, we have several plans in place for how to move forward with the Split Life.  The upcoming months will see several articles on mountain biking, hiking, and local terrain that not only has great summer value, but also serves as a launching point for several winter backcountry spots.  Around the beginning of September, we plan to have multiple outlets for the upcoming season, including new gear highlights, gear reviews, spot checks, and tips on preparing for winter.  If you have more that you would like to hear about, leave a comment or like us on our facebook page and leave ideas on our wall.  In the meantime, enjoy spring and summer, and look forward to each season as it comes.


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