How to skin your way to the top, without paying the price.
Snowboarding started with a bunch of hooligans, making the most of snow with whatever they could find to ride. My father showed me his “snowboard” from when he was young—he made it from a piece of wood, a rope, and some nails, protruding to grip his shoes. My mom’s first pair of skis were also wood, but so flimsy that she constantly worried about snapping them in half. In the last few decades, snowboarding has grown in both popularity and price. Poor beginnings have evolved into a rich (wo)man’s sport.
After realizing I could neither justify nor afford dropping over $1000 on a splitboard, I opted for the dusty snowshoes in my parents garage. My younger years had been blessed with a season pass to a handful of Colorado’s best ski resorts, but growing up parted me from this childhood perk. After moving to a place that hasn’t seen snow in over a hundred years, coming home was both a treat and torturously tempting.
Snow holds nostalgia incomparable and stronger than anything else—anyone who grew up around it will tell you the same. The feel of waking up to a landscape transformed radiantly white overnight is truly euphoric, no matter how old you get. Being away from the snow for so long had only increased this unconditional love. I couldn’t wait to get out there, but also couldn’t afford the astronomical prices.
A friend of mine invited me up for a day of skinning in Minturn. Besides the gas to get there, the day was absolutely free since no $100 lift tickets are needed for backcountry. I threw my gear, snowshoes, and beacon in my backpack, and was on my way. A mere fifteen minutes after we started uphill, I was already peeling off layers. I ignorantly attributed this difficulty to my recent change from sea level to Colorado altitude. When we reached the top, however, my friend nonchalantly mentioned how much harder the climb must have been in snowshoes. It was only then that I realized, my snowshoes were no match for his kingpins and skins. I needed a splitboard.
I spent a few futile minutes online that evening, looking for an affordable splitboard. No such luck. The cheapest ones were still around $600, plus splitboard bindings (~$400), and skins (~$200). It was during this plunge toward utter despair that I found the DIY Voile Split Kit for $160. I ordered it.
Another peruse through my parents garage yielded an old, barely used snowboard. I had originally bought it for riding pipe years before, but only used it a few times. With the help of my father and his collection of tools, the DIY kit was a success. My board was successfully split in half and boasting the necessary hardware for touring.
There is a great YouTube tutorial which thoroughly shows and explains all the steps involved in installing the Voile Split Kit. Alternatively, the Voile Split Kit page also supplies a list of shops that will install the kit for you.
My board, now split and waxed, was ready to go. I threw on some old Technine bindings that I had from when I thought Tall-Ts and Technine would make me Lucas Magoon. They were a bit heavy, but sufficed. The last thing I needed were skins, so I ordered a pair from Voile for $185.
The maiden voyage just outside Boulder went exceedingly well, only lacking in fresh snow.
Luckily, my most recent trip home coincided with endless snow and bluebird days, perfect for a hut trip to Walters Cabin. The skin up Shrine pass was not only stunning, but also problem-free. My splitboard passed the test with flying colors.
Between gear and a day’s lift ticket, I successfully saved over $600. Theres nothing better than taking in the beauty of this world from right amidst it. Having done it on the cheap doesn’t hurt either.