Adam Broderick manages the web content at Tahoe Mountain Sports. When he is not in the office, he tries his best to be in the field doing something awesome.
I brought my girlfriend backcountry snowboarding. She blew my mind. She’s athletic to begin with and she rips on a snowboard, but this being her first tour out I didn’t expect her to do as well on the uphill. I called back to her as I searched for an alternate route around the steep, slick and sun-crusted skin track, “This is like an advanced skinning course on beginner-to-intermediate terrain!”
“What!?” she hollered back through the wind.
“Nevermind! Just keep your head up and put one foot after the other. Exactly like that!”
Coming from someone who has trouble getting comfortable in no-fall-zones and sketchy terrain, I expected her to complain and lag a lot more. I gave her a crash course on the basic climbing tips when we first popped up our heel risers, and I never had to repeat myself. Not once. Occasionally I would glance back to see how she was handling the side-stepping, weight-displacement or slippery surface crust, and she was usually steps ahead of my (unnecessary) guidance. She even figured out ‘different pole lengths on steep traverses” on her own and learned to use her pole to initiate her heel risers without my instruction. I repeatedly glanced back to catch her not struggling, but inhaling a deep breath of fresh mountain air and smiling out toward the wild world around us. She concurred with my appreciation for an aerobic workout while skinning up a mountainside: “I can definitely see the appeal here.”
The only thing she wasn’t prepared for was bitter cold finger tips after going gloveless during the summit switchover, but she’s not to blame for that one. I told her she’d be cool with the pair of spring mid-weights she had, although they lacked the dexterity needed to handle some of the splitboard hardware, then I expected her to be fully engaged during the switch from touring to ride-mode. That was just me wanting her to get the maximum experience from an outing I’ve been praising since we met. I reassembled the first half of her board for her while she took notes for the second half, and I was happy to do so. She had impressed me plenty by this point. Plus, she’s really cute so it’s hard to let little things get under the skin. Especially something as minor as not fully sustaining yourself on your very first backcountry snowboarding adventure. She finished the switchover and we ripped back down the mountain.
Not many people have an extra splitboard setup lying around. Fortunately, I do, however both my boards are between 160 and 162 cm long. That’s a pretty big plank for a 5′ 6″, 130-lb pilot, but I went ahead and narrowed the stance and shortened the binding straps with hopes that it would suffice for a half-day tour. Man, did I underestimate her skills.
I explained how I’ll sometimes utilize my poles for tighter turns when I’ve got pack weight on my back or my board just needs some extra assistance maneuvering through trees. She took the advice and rode with it, hammering turns all the way down on a board too long that I expected to be much more restrictive. I’ve ridden in-bounds with her enough to know she can maneuver the moguls and the trees with ease and that she’d rather be off-piste than on, but I never would have dreamt she’d have such an easy time utilizing the torsional flex on a K2 Panoramic all-mountain factory split. That is not the most flexible board on the market, nor close to it. But still, she rode that thing like she’d been on it all season. She also made me feel like I need to get out there more often, like maybe I’m not as efficient in the skin track as I thought. And I’m totally alright with that. Why? Because she fooled around with me that afternoon.
Suncloud Daybreak Polarized Sunglasses
The North Face Blaze Hooded Jacket – Women’s
Deuter Trans Alpine 26 SL Backpack – Women’s