Splitboarding

Only a few years ago, it was just a handful of hardy souls who braved Chamonix with a splitboard. Now it’s exploding here, with loads of local riders adding them to the quiver.

What’s a splitboard?

If you’re wonder­ing what it means, it’s a way of combin­ing ski touring with snowboard­ing — the board splits into skis, onto which you stick skins that allow you to walk uphill.

Splitboard Jones Hovercraft
Taking a break on the way up

At the top, you re-assemble the board and ride down. Splitboard.com has all the details for the curious. I have a Jones Solution and a split Jones Hovercraft from Zero G, and I use Spark bindings, Voile & G3 skins and Black Diamond collapsible poles with them.

Where can I go splitboarding?

Not every tour in Chamonix is suitable for splitboarding. If you’re used to the lower, more rounded mountains of much of North America, our steep and technical peaks are a bit of a challenge, and you can expect to use your crampons a lot – but there’s more than enough choice to keep you happy. The Col de Berard, Bel Oiseau, Col de Passon, around the Grand Saint Bernard area, the possibilities are endless.

Splitboarding eye view of Mont Blanc
Splitboard eye view of Mont Blanc

Some local guides that I would recommend are Neil Hitchings, who has guided us on many great adventures, Neil McNab who runs splitboarding specific group weeks, and Lars of Mountain Penguins who also specialises in snowboards.

New Year's Day, relaxed splitboarding tour far from the crowds
New Year’s Day, relaxed splitboard tour far from the crowds

I want one!

If you’d like to try it, Zero G has one for hire – call them up and ask to talk to Tom if you have any questions. Tom has a split himself and is a great source of info – they also have spares etc if you have a board and need anything for it. They deal with both Spark and Karakoram for bindings, and Jones, Lib Tech, Gnu and more for boards.

For inspiration, have a look at Jeremy Jones’ “Deeper” movie, partly filmed in Chamonix.

Jeremy Jones’ Deeper Trailer – A Snowboard Film from Teton Gravity Research on Vimeo.