The Top 11 Splitboarding Destinations Worldwide
With glaciers reopening and the first proper snowfall just around the corner, now is the time to get those winter plans in action and decide where you'll be to score those fresh tracks.
Split boarding is a cheap, effective and eco-friendly way to get out and make the most of the available terrain, plus it's one of the most rewarding ways of making it to the top!
But while most people will be heading to a resort for their adventures this year, it's worth considering a backcountry destination for a real mountainous experience. The first instinct is to imagine life on a cat boarding mission, or at an Alaskan heli operation, but unless you're made of money most people are often priced out of these ventures.
Split boarding, as you should know by now, is a cheap, effective and eco-friendly way to get out and make the most of the available terrain, plus it's one of the most rewarding ways of making it to the top!
Our new contributor - Andy Malton - has spent years researching and experiencing the best the world's mountains have to offer and is a certified backcountry enthusiast. This is his first piece of many for Whitelines.com, but for more of his off piste wisdom you can check out his own site at www.thegemsstock.com
Lyngen Alps - Norway
The Lyngen Alps are situated 300km or so north of the Arctic Circle in the Troms region of Norway. This area is home to some of the best splitboarding in Europe and the combination of majestic mountains and deep fjords gives Lyngen an unmistakable vibe. As the majority of the peaks in Lyngen are between 1000 and 1500m high they are climbable in a day from sea level - some descents even end right at the sea shore. A boat is a unique and popular way to get around Lyngen - touring straight off the boat and moving between Islands to find the best lines and snow conditions. Lyngen is a must visit destination for all aspiring splitboarders.
Lofoten Islands - Norway
The Lofoten Islands lie off the coast of Arctic Norway and, much like neighbouring Lyngen a little further up the coast, are full of amazing mountains that shoot straight out of the sea. Due to the maritime climate the conditions in Lofoten can be variable, with Atlantic storms being a common occurrence. However, when the wind blows out of the arctic and the snow falls deep and dry there can’t be many better places to go splitboarding. Plus, for anyone prepared to brave the cold water, the surfing in Lofoten is world class too.
Chamonix Valley - France
Having a splitboard and the right kind of knowledge to travel safely in the mountains can unlock the secrets of Chamonix. Far away from the lift queues and tracked up slopes that are often a feature of the resorts that line the valley is the kind of terrain that makes Chamonix such a draw for so many snowboarders. Grab an early morning lift and tour off the top stations above Brevent and Flegere for great views across to Mont Blanc. The top lift at Grands Montets provides access to big lines in the Argentiere Basin like those on Les Courtes and popular day tours like Col Du Passon. The back bowls of La Tour are just a short skin from the lift and are a great place to be on a powder day and it goes without saying that the Aiguille Du Midi accesses some of the biggest terrain in the Alps – again often a relatively short skin away.
Andermatt - Switzerland
Andermatt is an old village right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Because of its central location the surrounding mountains pick up storms rolling in from all directions and guarantee that if there is powder somewhere in the Alps, it’ll probably be in Andermatt. This part of the Alps is also relatively under developed which makes Andermatt a perfect place to go splitboarding. Short tours can be found straight off the top of the Gemsstock lift along with bigger objectives further into the mountains.
Revelstoke – British Columbia
Revy is the powder capital of Canada. Situated between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountain Ranges, the area gets pummelled with the big storms that roll in off the Pacific. By the time they’ve reached Revelstoke the snow is dry and cold. Revelstoke is another one of those places with just so many options – the touring off the top lift of Revelstoke Mountain Resort is awesome, Rogers Pass is a half hour drive away and has some of the best road accessed splitboarding in the world and there are a multitude of backcountry huts and lodges in the area that make the perfect base for multi-day backcountry adventures.
Turnagain Pass - Alaska
Turnagain is a classic AK splitboarding destination. The mountains that rise above the road are loaded with cold powder that sticks to the peaks creating the kind of conditions that makes Alaska the ultimate place to go freeriding. The resort of Alyeska lies within an hours’ drive and receives some of the biggest snow fall totals anywhere in the world. It makes for a great place to relax and ride the lifts when a rest day is needed. Turnagain Pass has zones for sledding and also areas where no motorized transport is allowed, so splitters can be sure of a bit of peace and quiet along with plenty of fresh pow to shred.
St Elias Mountains – Alaska
This one is way out there – the St Elias Mountains lie on the coast of Alaska close to the border with Canada. One of the largest wilderness areas in the world, the St Elias Range contains some of the biggest mountains on the planet that are only accessible via plane or helicopter. This is as serious as it gets though; the unpredictable weather can produce storms that last for weeks which make these mountains perhaps the snowiest in the World. Anyone wanted to go splitboarding here will have to have the full gamut of skills to survive in the big mountains. Those with the time and skills will be rewarded with mind blowing lines and a wilderness experience up there with anywhere on Earth.
Whistler - British Columbia
Whistler makes a great base for a splitboarding trip due to the abundance of awesome stuff to hit both off the lifts at Whistler Blackcomb Resort and also in the massive backcountry that the area offers. Classic tours off the lifts include the Musical Bumps from the top of Whistler Mountain – a perfect tour for a powder day with great tree runs and big open bowls - and a trip to Fissile Peak behind Blackcomb Mountain to shred its famous central couloirs. It’s not difficult to find adventure in the surrounding backcountry as the Coast Mountains provide an endless wilderness full of deep snow and incredible terrain. Check out mountains around the Duffey Lake Road and around Pemberton for starters.
Svalbard - Norway
Svalbard is an archipelago of islands right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, about half way between the coast of Norway and the North Pole. Svalbard is not the place to visit in winter as it’s dark most of the time but when spring rolls around it really comes into its own. Close to 24 hour daylight means riding is possible at any time, the fat maritime snow pack is generally quite stable and the mountains are epic and many of them un-ridden. Just keep an eye out for the Polar Bears.
Patagonia - South America
This is the place to go for summer splitboard adventures. The Southern Hemisphere winter comes to a head though August and September and Patagonia is the perfect place to go and scratch that splitboard itch. Patagonia covers both Chile and Argentina and is a wild, unspoilt land containing huge mountains and volcanoes that make for some great splitboarding terrain. The cultural experience also ensures a splitboarding trip to Patagonia will feel like a world away from a typical holiday in the Alps.
Perhaps not the first place that comes to mind when planning a split trip, Japan would actually make a pretty rad place to go splitboarding. The north island of Hokkaido is famous for ridiculous amounts of snow and is the place to hit for deep tree runs and endless face shots. Hire a van, drive around and tour from the roadside. With a splitboard you can guarantee pretty much every turn will be bottomless. The south Island has higher mountains and bigger lines. It’s the place to head for steep alpine terrain, spines and couloirs.