I’m guessing you’ve heard this before: this past winter was terrible. Most winters, I expect to be able to go snowboarding or splitboarding at Snoqualmie Pass every single day. It’s pretty much what I’ve scheduled my life around since high school. This winter, warm weather left us skunked: we were looking at grass on cat tracks in January. So when March rolled around, long after all the Northwest ski hills shut down, I took a five-week sabbatical to spend some time in a van with a couple good friends (Jay Hergert and Brandon Huttenlocher), in an attempt to salvage our winter.
Much to our delight, we found the snow we were looking for, and a heck of a lot more. From Revelstoke, to Banff, to the Kootenays, to Jasper National Park, we were able to find our way above the snow line and get fresh tracks just about everywhere we looked. Even in the worst season in memory, we were able to find the days that make this whole life pursuit worthwhile.
The full story of that trip will be out in some form later this fall. For now, I’m going to list here a couple of notes from my trip that might help you if you are interested in taking a similar trip in the future.
Okay, how much does a trip like this cost?
Jay and I spent $1950 US over five weeks. Brandon spent a similar amount, plus a couple very costly unplanned camera expenses. So we are looking at $1000 US each, for five weeks, including food, gas, car insurance.
We splurged and ate out more than we could have. Going out on the town and talking to the locals was more than worth the extra food and drink budget though. Locals in Revelstoke were more than happy to share the good spots with us.
You’ll notice pictures from a helicopter-assited touring trip—that expense, which would cost something like $1600 US, is not included in the above calculation. If you’re interested in doing a heli trip in the interior BC and don’t need a guide, Glacier Helicopters is the way to go. https://www.glacierhelicopters.ca/
Photo: Brandon Huttenlocher
The van ///
We kind of lucked out here. Jay had previously set up his 2001 Ford Econoline van to live in, and kindly volunteered it for the trip. It had been parked back home out of service for a couple months, so we did have to put some time into changing the oil, and spent $80 getting it re-insured.
Jay slept in a raised bunk he built. Brandon and I fit lengthwise along the van, sleeping pads side by side, with our feet under the bunk. We had enough space to be comfortable, but just barely. Modular storage was key– a couple Tupperware bins from a department store made moving things around the van (call it changing over from drive mode to sleep mode if you want to make a cheesy splitboard pun) much smoother and easier.
I’ve long been a big fan of Frequency magazine. One article, in particular, contributed a lot to a mindset that helped keep us sane. After all— 5 weeks is a long time to live in a van with the same three people. I won’t spoil the whole thing, but I just want to share this excerpt from Nate Deschenes’s Switzerland: Saas Fe, St. Moritz and David Hasselhoff feature in Volume 10.1
“[speaking about how you can’t go in to a trip expecting to be able to control too much]… The result of this kind of travel is just going to places, not experiencing them.
What a location has to offer is determined precisely by what is there at the respective moment in time you pass through—no more, no less. If you can grasp this very simple concept, everything you are looking for just magically happens—often as you wouldn’t have ever imagined.”
For all the planning we did for the trip, the best moments came from just following the flow of what the area had to offer. Is that an invite to stay an extra week in Revelstoke? Sure! An invite to go to the S-Games, Revelstoke’s end of the season freestyle contest? Sure! Bloody Caesars and Poutine? Let’s go!
Photo: Brandon Huttenlocher
We picked the right year to take a road trip. With gas well under $3 USD per gallon, we were able to swing this trip on a lower budget than we otherwise would have. All told, we put roughly 6500 miles on that van. We probably would have driven less, had we not made some awesome friends in Revelstoke. The plan was to just park the van at a trailhead, but we ended up commuting from their house in town to the hill more often than we planned. That’s travel though—just roll with what chances you get. The extra time on the road was a small price to pay for showers, comfy beds, and good company.
No article about our trip would be complete with mentioning our friends at Valley Retreat B&B in Revelstoke. We met an awesome guy named Ryan, who has just finished a new Bed and Breakfast geared towards snowsports enthusiasts. It’s close to the resort, super comfy, and Ryan cooks some mean Canadian Bacon with pancakes. Canadian hospitality at its finest. I’m still not sure how we lucked out and met such awesome people in Revelstoke, but I’m really thankful we did!
Our good friend Kyle Miller went on another adventure this past spring to the mountains of Norway! Take notes and get a good look at what Kyle’s been up to. Also, if you’d like to keep with Kyle and all his adventures, follow him on Instagram: @kylemiller411
Words and photos: Kyle Miller
It all started with a roundtrip plane ticket to Munich, Germany and an generalized plan to ski and stay with friends it two of the ski touring meccas of Europe Innsbruck, Austria and Tromso, Norway. I left the Cascades admist a bleak seasonal snowpack and days after attending and MCing the Mount Baker Splitfest only to arrive in Innsbuck as the biggest storm of the season slammed the Tirolian Alps. Plans of a large scale traverse were thrown aside in the allure of easy access powder runs in an area roughly the size of North Cascades National Park yet with 100 different ski resorts. After two weeks of storm riding there was a quick transition to spring and that new snow had to consolidate and I knew it would take time. I took it as a hint that it was time to head north and spend my spring in the Lyngen Alps.
The year prior I had spent a month in Norway but it wasn’t until the final week that I found myself among the towering and complex mountains of the Lyngen. For three solid weeks our crew battled dire conditions and made the most out of daily storm events, a low snowpack and rain in the alpine before everyone went back home except for me. I decided to stick it out for one final week and head up into the Lyngen Alps and see what all the hype was talking about. It was on that final week that the clouds parted and a new and exciting world opened up in front of me. With only a few days I was overwhelmed but made the best out of it base camping and tagging line after line. The area was big enough to get remote yet not too vast to loose yourself in. I knew one day I would have to go back.This season I first arrived in the Lyngen through the Finnish border. I had been taking shelter in Kilpisajrvai a by night and after an hour commute riding the Lyngen by day. I would come to find that the Finns have been climbing in these mountains for decades and had them all to thereselves before the word of there potential spread like wild fire. Amongst this land and abroad they are known for being humble and meticulous and I had the great fortunate to be admist a few for the first week of my journey, making the best out of variable conditions by day and soaking in a Sauna by night. One day we even found ourselves riding a steep 300 meter couloir in perfect corn on the Finnish side and getting a sled ride the 15kms to and from while the driver went Ice Fishing at the base of the mountain. It’s through traveling without a plan that I was able to learn so much about the Finnish people. After a week of hiding in Finland I was dropped off at a bus stop and it it was time to head into the Northern region of Lyngen and switch from Finnish to Norwegien hospitality at it’s finest.
I arrived in Lyngengiest right at the perfect time moment with two backs filled to the brim with camping and glacier travel gear. Sean and Molly Busby who run Twosticksandaboard.com had arrived in town and were staying at my friend Davids farm and just so happened to be buying fuel at the local shop and were kind to offer my gear and I a ride back to the farm. Like me, there plan was to have no plan and were kind enough to invite me on there journey and after breaking down the forecast and maps we decided to head out on the road and do some freedom camping. For the next week we drove and rode in-between Lyngen and the Lofoten Island making the best out of the snow conditions and taking in the world class scenery all around us. It was fun to see Lofoten when it wasn’t raining (the previous year we spent almost 3 weeks in the rain), and to take in blue skies day after day though weather wise it is pretty rough there is a reason they call it “The Gem of Norway”. At the end of there trip I said goodbye to Molly and Sean and got stationed again at the farm started ticking off different objectives that I could see from his yead
The last two weeks I really focused on the Northern Lyngen and with the help of local busses, carpooling and Sea Kayaking I was able to get into endless options of alpine perfection. The last weekend of the trip my friend David and I sea kayaked across a fjord into terrain that could rival the Cascades and rode powder filled couloirs back to the fjord. There’s a calmness in sea kayaking after snowboard that can be additive. If that wasn’t enough the transition from Spring to the midnight sun was amazing watching the days get almost a half hour longer daily. At 69 degrees it’s hard to get further north and even harder to find comparable terrain and the Lyngen Alps of Norway have both stole my heart and my mind as I ponder the limitless options and start to understand the range in itself.
Thanks to the creativity of our friend Tyler Toews, we’re stoked to offer a new T-Shirt for both Men and now Women! Yes, we now have a women’s specific t-shirt, sorry ladies if we we’re a little late to the party on that but better late than never!
Tyler Toews is a snowboarder, a mountain guide, and a fantastic mural artist out of Canada. His large scale work can be seen all across Canada and has even been building his own company Canadian Murals. Check out his work and learn more at www.CanadianMurals.com
The shirt will be available in the Black Aqua color way for Men’s small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. The women’s shirt is a Heather Plum color and will be available in medium and large sizes. If you would like to purchase a shirt they are now available in our webstore at http://www.splitboardbindings.com/apparel/#!/~/. Don’t forget to add some stickers to your order free of charge!).
While working on the design for this shirt, Tyler even recorded a time lapse video for us to see, check it out for yourself here below:
With the incredible stretch of warm, dry weather we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest, the volcano shredding has been firing in recent weeks. In our last blogpost we highlighted three volcanoes we went splitboarding on lately. One of them being Mt. Adams (12,280’/3,743 m). The trip we had on Mt. Adams was one worth talking a little more about.
Mike, Russman and myself (Paul) made the climb up Mt. Adams with our friends Theresa, Adam and Saign. Our goal was not exactly to just climb the volcano, but also to go get a little rowdy and shred a massive, steep and highly exposed line off the top (the red line in the first photo). I mean, climbing UP a volcano is fun and all, but really it’s the ride down that gets us jazzed. So we decided to go for it, a short two-day mission fending off relentless mosquitos and hiking for miles with the heaviest pack you’ve ever packed to go ride an epic line. It feels silly to complain about little things like pack weight and mosquitos when you know how sweet it’s going to be coming down this incredible face that you get to look at all the way into camp. After hiking for a little while on dusty trails, crossing a couple creeks with our heavy packs, and mosquito ravaged skin, we made it to a meadow to set up camp for the night. We knew the sunset was going to be nice, but I don’t think any of us knew it was going to be as good as it was. Some high clouds made for a much more interesting sky and turned the mountains from white to pink. An awesome way to eat dinner, relax and get ready for bed before the early start up the mountain the next morning.
We woke up to clear skies, perfect temps and a giant mountain in plain sight that we had to scramble up first before getting gnarly. The climb up was pretty interesting as we started out on skins and reached the ridge where we had to then throw the boards and skis on the packs and scramble for a while on foot. Toward the last 1500 feet we were able to hop back on the skins and make our way toward the top. We took some time to get a group photo, eat a little snack, drink some water, and then it was time to make our way back down.
Dropping into the beginning of the line you go through some relatively low angle hippy turns but the whole time you’re turning you know that what’s ahead of you is what’ll make you piss yourself. We got on top of the roll and regrouped for a minute to discuss our plans and one by one we made our way down the main headwall. Going over the roll is quite interesting, vertigo definitely sets in right as you take a look down. We had great communication from Adam and Saign as they made their way down before the rest of us and it sounded like the snow was mostly soft with a few spots of firm snow to mitigate. Russell and Theresa made their way down soon after and looked smooth, conservative and clean. For Theresa, Mike and I, it was our first time ever riding anything like this so I think all of us were a little gripped up top. I can personally say I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. For a few minutes I considered climbing out and finding a different route down but something snapped me out of that decision and I had to really remind myself that I was capable of riding this line. With a few deep breaths I crept out onto the headwall and just stood on my board for one more minute before making that first hop turn. Committing to that first turn on the main headwall is the hardest part, right away I realized that I was just snowboarding and everything was going to be alright. The snow couldn’t have been much better, smooth edgeable corn that didn’t really move a whole lot. Slough and wet slides are always a concern on a steep line like that but the snow wasn’t moving as much as I thought it would so I continued to let ‘er rip. I didn’t realize it until I was off the line but in the middle it actually gets a tad bit steeper to make things a little more interesting. Our exit wasn’t too bad hopping over the massive crevasses and getting across snow bridges to get out. Always a little erie jumping over a big crevasse but the gaps were short and manageable. Mike, also scared out of his mind, made his way down last after waiting for the rest of us to make it down safely and looked conservative and smooth. All six of us got down the line safely and the stoke was high! Some of us couldn’t believe what we had just rode. The whole line is exposed to massive wide-open crevasses below you, so one miscue on a turn and you’re just hoping you can self arrest with your ice tools in hand(s). Although, sometimes to get over those fears you just have got to remind yourself that its just another day on the slopes, whether you’re skiing or snowboarding.
Huge thank you to Russman, Adam and Saign for the guidance, it was extremely helpful and I don’t know if the rest of us would have made it down that line safely without any of you. Cheers to Mike and Theresa for coming along for the incredible ride as well. Awesome trip!
The crew discussing the line from a nearby lake on our way in
One of the creek crossings we had on the way into camp
A beautiful sunset on Mt. Adams
Making our way to the ridge bright and early in the morning
A nice view of the entire line
Adam skinning up with Rainier looking beautiful in the distance
Saign, Russman and Theresa scrambling up the ridge
A good look at the Adam’s Glacier and the mellow low angle portion of the line before the roll
Mandatory summit shot
Making some awesome corn turns above the roll, preparing to get scared
Looking down the main face before it gets even steeper below, does not do much justice
Russman getting a feel for the snow
Nothing but smiles after riding a line like that
Hiking out after another kick ass day in the mountains
Here’s a little video I threw together from my POV footage of the line: