Backcountry: Our First Time Skinning

A few months ago we purchased two Voile splitboards at a killer discount on The Clymb then spent another month researching all the other gear we’d need – skins, bindings, beacons, shovels, probes, trekking poles, etc. Uh, there is a lot that goes into splitboarding. With in-bounds/resort boarding you simply screw a pair of bindings to a board and you’re off. With splitboarding you have to pick out skins and potentially bindings. The skins need to be trimmed to fit your board which is nerve wrecking – I cut up $175 strips of sticky plush with the equivalent of a letter opener! Next you have to decide if you’re spending more money on splitboard specific bindings or if you’re going to rig up your in-bounds bindings to work. We did the latter. They work fine.

Yea, this was all a foreign language to me until about a month ago when I studied up by searching around Google, watching way too many YouTube videos and grilling Steve the poor guys working at Wilderness Exchange. There is a lot more to learn with splitboarding, but I think that is a good thing – if something happens with your equipment in the backcountry you need to know how everything works so you can rig up a solution!

Skinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones Pass

At the moment we have all of our basic equipment, we are still compiling our safety gear. This means we have the splitboards, our skins are trimmed and we’re making our in-bounds bindings work. However, we’re missing some very important pieces of equipment – the avalanche gear. It is in the mail, but its not here yet.

Until that safety equipment arrives we are sticking below the tree line and out of any open chutes. This meant our first skinning experience happened at Henderson Mines/Jones Pass/Butler Trail where we could safely traverse some well traveled, snow covered trails. Not quite full on back country but good enough for us. I mean, it was our first time skinning!

Skinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones PassSkinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones PassSkinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones Pass

For the record…there is a bit of a learning curve when figuring out how to use two sticks instead of one board. There was no toppling over but I did not feel very efficient while skinning. As the day wore on it started to feel more natural but it’ll take a little time to really get good at it. For me I think the biggest challenge will be to slide the board/ski along the ground rather than try to step like I am snowshoeing or hiking.

It’s a work in progress and I think its safe to say I discovered a few new muscles! My hip flexors were well aware of the fact they haven’t been used and abused in a while! An enabling little birdy told me that skinning makes for some great cross training when it comes to mountain trail running. I whole heartedly believe her and will be spending lots of quality time on my new splitboard! Definitely some money well spent!

Skinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones Pass

We skinned up the trail about 1.5 miles then called it a day. We were just below tree line and the sun was starting to sink below the mountain tops. Now it was time for the fun stuff – switching our snowboards from skin mode to board mode. I had done this multiple times in the living room while trimming the skins, at the time it didn’t seem that difficult. At the time we were in a warm, windless apartment.

I have no idea if there is science to back me up but I’m pretty sure the cold snow/air made the glue even stickier! Getting the skins off was a challenge! This is another learning curve thing, right?!

Skinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones PassSkinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones PassSkinning on Voile Splitboards at Henderson Mines/Jones Pass
Chris calls this method “using boot force”…

Not only was this our first time skinning, it was our first time riding splitboards. Technically they are just snowboards and its not really a big deal. In reality they are split down the middle and our improvised in-bounds bindings were a good inch off the surface of the board. I could tell on the way down that my splitboard responded a bit differently but there were no crashes!

All in all it was a great day to be up in the mountains trying something new. I have high hopes for our winter in the backcountry! I’m really excited I’ve found a way to play in the snow with Chris while cross training for my summer of running and I can not wait to get out to explore untouched powder!


Backcountry: Our First Time Skinning — 10 Comments

    • I don’t think we realized just how much there was to do outside until we moved here. Not only is there a ton of stuff I am surrounded by knowledgeable people who jump at the chance to get others involved. I love it. Who knew being cold (or overheating in the summer) could be so much fun!

  1. You’re always finding some new adventure to try!

    To me the pictures look vaguely like cross country skiing with different equipment. Is that sort of the same? Or a different motion entirely?

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!
    Lisa recently posted..Nights that FreezeMy Profile

    • We have a really hard time saying “naw, we don’t need to try that”…so we always end up with new stuff! I kinda like it..

      It is a lot like cross country skiing, but with “carpet” on the bottom of the skis/splitboard so you don’t slide backwards when going up hill. The motion is very similar to xcountry skiing or even a little like rollerblading without picking up your feet (if that makes any sense at all?).

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too! Its going to be a toasty turkey day here – it 65 today!

    • It took us a while to get into the mindset that “earning your turns” was worth the work – we always wondered why people would hike UP the mountain when there were resorts. Now we know!

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