So this isn’t my typical photography/visual effects blog post, but for those that know me, you know I’m an avid snowboarder and have been for 18 years now I think? And for those that have known me for a while, know that I’ve worked in the snowboard industry in retail and a ski/snowboard tech for eight years.
My work as a visual effects artist has allowed me to move here to British Columbia, and everybody finds it quite fitting given my background in snowboarding. Being my second winter season in BC I decided to get into riding out in the backcountry. So in the fall I decided to pick up a pair of snowshoes – MSR Lightning Ascents to be exact. Some pretty awesome snowshoes, one of the lightest weight snowshoes you can get, that’s great for climbing with good traction for icy terrain. Well, was originally just going to do light hikes in the sidecountry, which is why I opted just getting snowshoes. But probably not even a few weeks after buying my snowshoes, I told myself “What the hell… why not just get into splitboarding?” So here it is.. the start of my splitboarding journey and since I don’t have a dedicated blog for my snowboarding, and honestly, can’t be bothered creating a new one, so here it goes.
So in my years of working with snowboards, I’ve learned a lot about construction and technology. What works and doesn’t work. In my time snowboarding I’ve owned probably well over 30+ snowboards, and have easily ridden 200+ boards. Having done so, I can tell even the slightest of differences between board designs, even before having stepped onto the board. Unfortunately for me it’s a bit of a curse because I tend to get very picky with what I ride, and definitely makes you want to ride a quiver of boards knowing each board has its pros and cons.
When it came time to picking out what splitboard to get I was a bit fussy with what board I really wanted. After going back and forth to several shops and checking out all the splitboard options, nothing for me really stood out telling me “this is the board I want”. The one that came closest to the board I wanted was a Jones Solution / Carbon Solution. Splitboarding still hasn’t gone mainstream, and honestly don’t quite think it ever will. It’s really for the diehard snowboarder who’s looking for a new challenge(such as myself) or the mountaineer that enjoys snowboarding. Due to the niche nature of splitboarding there’s only a handful of manufacturers that support the market. Voile, Prior, Venture, Jones, K2 which just recently got into the splitboard game, and a few other companies make solid boards(no pun intended). With a miniscule percentage of snowboarders that splitboard, there’s not as much R&D going into splitboarding as we’d all like, which means there’s not a whole lot of tech in production splits. Having been a shop tech for so long I came to the conclusion I can pick out a solid board that suits me perfectly, split it myself and would probably enjoy it much more than any production split out there, and have all the benefits of having a manufacturer with a heavy R&D team pushing out great board tech. Most people opt to split a board mainly for cost reasons, cutting a board they no longer use much. But for me it was never about budget, it was more about having the right board under my feet.
But who in their right mind would decide to split a perfectly brand new board? Along with a handful of others that I’ve seen, there’s not too many of us that would. After having my choices down to two boards, the Ride Highlife UL and the K2 Ultra Dream. Both different boards in their own regards, and for me it came down to construction on which board I thought would be able to handle being split. Even that came down to a tossup. Some people have been worried about splitting Ride’s UL(ultra light) core and some worried about splitting K2′s honykomb core. Ended up deciding on the Ride Highlife UL 164.
I’ve been a long time fan of Ride. I’ve owned a few Concepts, Timeless’, couple of Societys, a DH, a Profile, and a Jeff Brushie pro model. I’m sitting here wondering if I’ve missed any others… Aside from a couple of new boards in the past few years I’ve also ridden almost every board in their line for the past 10+ years like the Kink, Theory, Buckwild, Prophet.. I really couldn’t begin to list all their boards I’ve ridden. All amazing decks in their own aspect. Even Ride bindings, been a fan since Preston days. As for boards, absolutely love their slimewalls, UL core, and membrain topsheets, which is why the Highlife UL was at the top of my choices. This board will have more tech than any production split out there.
I didn’t want to do some run of the mill DIY split setup either. I wanted something clean and as close to factory done as possible. And you just don’t get that with a t-nut setup like your typical DIY split where you drill through the base and fill it back in with epoxy or p-tex discs – thus leaving a dozen or so really ugly circles on the bottom of your board. So I opted for a helicoil setup which hopefully I’ll be doing a how-to DIY instructions within the next few days. I won’t be doing a how-to DIY split as there’s plenty enough out there.
I also opted to get it cut using a waterjet rather than a circular saw. But unfotunately I took it into a shop whose waterjet machine’s laser alignment was off quite a bit. So while the cut was perfectly straight, it was quite noticeably off-center from where I marked for the cut to be. Luckily the board is quite a bit wider than I normally go for for my 9.5 boots with a waist width of 25.7cm, I was able to shave off some of the other half of the board with a belt sander. So its now sitting at about a 25.1cm waist width, perfect for quick edge to edge transitions. Though I must admit the extra width might of had some advantages for a little extra float in powder.
So here it is… in all it’s glory. My Ride Splitlife UL 164! (click for higher res)
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave one on here or join the discussion on splitboard.com