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splitboard :

*long approach on snow ( eg +3 hours)

*long traverse out (eg +1 hour of walking out)

*you're in hurry

*you're breaking trail in deep snow

*you're carrying lots of gear (tent, etc)


snowshoes :

*short hike up

*really steep hike

*a pre-existing trail exists

*you're going to do laps with relatively short climbs

*you want to use a specialized non-split board

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Good summary.


I will add a bit


Shoes: Good hiking on hard pack (you can almost do a slow steady jog). I can beat most skinners up a steep irregular and hard packed switchback trail on my snowshoes.


Split board: Great in Japan to escape the Stalanist rope oppression and enjoy the awesome powder. If I lived in Japan I would buy a split in a flash.


Shoes: generally they are great in Europe, except for when you are crossing lots of glaciers. In that case shoes are dangerous as your surface area is too low and you can fall through a snow bridge. Hence you often see boarders on shoes who are tied together whilst hiking (at the same time many skiers are not tied). Split board travel allows all the benefits enjoyed by rando or telemark travel. If you are riding a snowboard and get stuck on a glacier then it can be really hard work to get un-stuck as the first glacier rule for snowboarders is never take your board off unless you are tied to someone and wearing snowshoes. This year in Chamonix the >2000m cover is quite thin and so the glacier snowbridges poorly formed. I am not going near them at this stage.

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friends that have the new Lightning Ascent from MSR like them alot, light and good float:



if you wanted to save money, the Denali Evo Ascent is also good, plus it allow you to use flotation tails




if I were buying new ones, I'd get the Lightning Ascents

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bejesus!! eek.gif I want some.




Kuma - the I have the basic MSR shoe http://www.msrcorp.com/snow/ascent.asp and it performs great, but those ones Montoya linked are amazing. Damn, I didn't know about them. Mine do everything a good shoe needs to do. Really important is grip, although flotation might be a big one for you in Japan, so perhaps get ones that take flotation tails. Heel rider bar: vital. Very helpful is a completely flat binding so you can pack them down really flat.


Why didn't you go for splitboarding? If you are not inclined to do >2 hour hikes then I can understand. For 30 to 90 minute hikes from the top of a lift then snow shoes are often good enough. But 2 hours in deep snow and I might change my opinion really quick and wish I had walking planks.


Oh yeah, snow shoes are a truck load cheaper.

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Thanks for the links Montoya (I rated you a 5 star \:\) )


Spud I couldn't rate you since you have that turned off. but thanks for the help too!

I decided against the split board because I have spent too much cash recently and will be spending so much more getting the beacon/probe/shovel/pack/avy course, etc etc and dropping over 1000$ on a board is not in the cards. Plus I do lots of filming (when I can be bothered) and snowshoes would help me alot. Last year I fell in a 3/4 meter hole in Myoko and ...actually snowshoes wouldn't have changed that a bit. I ended up climbing out bruce lee style


I just checked those snowshoes..but they are too expensive in Japan! I might try and order them from the states

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eeeee?! So that is why my rating never changes (or, has remained relatively high)


Shoes or splits, you will enjoy yourself. Nothing wrong with shoes, they are extremely useful lightweight tools for getting around the mountain.


A cheaper option to the MSR shoes are TSL's from Suisse. I have used their basic model quite a bit on 2 hour long, steep hard pack hikes and they do the job well enough. But they honestly are not nearly as good at the MSR's in terms of grip and packable flat bindings. Don't underestimate the benefit of of good sideways grip when traversing.



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Kumapix, don't forget about the approach ski option. i have a pair of the K2 skis (out of production) and they are way better than snowshoes! I haven't gone the splitboard option yet b/c of the costs so these skis are the next best option.

better for traverses, better for the exit!


here's a link to karhu's models: link

note: if you find a pair of K2's make sure they have the right binding on them.

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Although Ricardo seems happy, I wouldn't rush into buying approach skis. They can be heavy and very uncomfortable to have strapped to your back when riding. Plus they often do not have a substantial presence on the snow hence traversing can be tough likewise travel on deep powder with a heavy pack or climbing shitty mixed surfaced (ice, pockets of windblown softs). If they are indeed substantial enough to do all this then they weigh even more and are longer and more of a pain on your back. Almost every guide in Chamonix who I saw on a board was using shoes. The one I saw using approach skis complained bitterly about them (weight, lack of versatility, difficulty of hard pack steep traverses in soft snowboard boots. He was a skier normally and only guided occasionally on a snowboard and hence didn't bother buying snowshoes.


Kuma - those JPY prices are about the same as I paid in GBP in Ldn. This is a sure sign that you are being ripped off. Order them from the states and get them shipped over. Also remember that they will last you longer than just about any other piece of kit.


When it come to poles, Leki aluminium twist lock poles are good value and work really well, although not the lightest. I used an old pair last season and the internal locking device kept freezing on me and so extending/compacting the poles was incredibly hard work. I have new ones this year and absolutely no problems with freezing at very low temps. I am very happy with them. What ever you get, make sure it is a very compact 3 piece pole that collapses down to about 70cm or less. The rubber tube grips on the pole upper is quite a nice feature for hiking in sunny weather as it allows you to hold the pole further down its length (something you will do often with yoru up-hill pole during a traverse) yet not need a glove for grip or warmth against the usual aluminium pole surface



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shoes: better on ice...yes. steep hardpack...only if you're going straight up. better on traverses...no way. traversing up a slope on shoes will torque your foot/leg position unless your in more than 6" powder when you can kick your steps (why kick when you can glide).


skiis: heavier...definitely (nothing that's going to "be a pain on your back" though), more cumbersome while riding...not with a decent pack.

the energy saved from gliding and not fighting traverses made me convert (i used shoes for 6 years similar to the Denali's).

with a 45 lb pack the skiis will work better in deep pow than the small msr's (don't know about the others)...in champaigne pow both will suck.


_spud, do you have any first hand experience with them?


edit: good point about traversing in soft boots. mine are fairly stiff so that's never been a problem for me

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Hi Ricardo


In a hardpack traverse I find that shoes are quite easy to use so long as they have bite: I simply point my toes uphill at about 45 degrees to the traverse line therefore no ankle twist and plenty of grip. If it is that hard pack, the approach skis will be very difficult to traverse in soft boots unless you have gnarly ski crampons (I am guessing here). With approach skis you don't even have the slight advantage of snowboard strap bindings lending some lateral support. AT boots on approach skis are a different matter, I would imagine.


I certainly have not had the experience that you have had (6 years). In fact, my experience is limited to 2 hours when I swapped shoes for approach skis with the guide. His were not great skis, rather they were these strange flat edged (no side cut) things that were collapsable, made of aluminium. I concede it is not much of a sample to form my overly verbal opinion upon ;\) . I would like to experience them more as they are obviously functional, otherwise they wouldn't have a fan club \:\)


However, I just can't see approach skis providing the versatility in all mountain terrain as do snow shoes. Even if I used a split board, I would still carry shoes on my pack (or those cool looking Verts). However, I can see that appraoch skis with appropriate boots would give much better glide travel than shoe-stomping. Perhaps multi day trips with long stretches of travel and I would want to be on appraoch skis... but I would still have shoes in my pack :-)


I rode with the guides smaller collapsable approach skis on my pack for a while and they didn't smack me in the head like I have heard other people complain of with the more functional (ie, longer and heavier) skis. These things have hard edges just like skis and are usually 100-130cm in length... and that is longer than my pack (in fact, it is up to 75% of my height). What is it like having a serious tumbling crash with them strapped to your pack?

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another thing to consider is who you ride with. if most of your mates are on skins, then it's easier to keep up with them on a splitboard. if your buddies are on snowshoes, makes sense to use the same tool.


if you are on a split and everyone else is on snowshoes, it's more than likely you will be doing most of the trail breaking since you will be lots faster.


not sure how the approach skis work out. ricardo, is it just as fast as skinning up on regular skis? I imagine you have less float since it seems to be shorter.

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I looked into ordering from the states but when you do the exchange and add 50$ for shipping then the difference is like $20...so not really worth it. I think I will keep an eye on the yahoo auctions since there are a bunch of msr shoes on there.


do you need poles for snowshoeing?

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Very good point from Montoya.


Kuma - just as you thought you had a handle on the cost... along come another bit of kit. You don't need poles, but in my opinion they are very good to have. You may not appreciate their benefit until you try with and without, but here goes: poles aid in balance, save energy and help you maintain a certain flowing rhythm to your hiking movement. Once you nail that rhythm you will use way less energy. They are also just generally handy things to have around when travelling in alpine areas. Any old poles will do, second hand, just make sure they are telescopic to a small length. I love hiking a satisfying hike with my poles, it is a cool flowing feeling.

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Originally posted by montoya:
my wife is using an Osprey Switch 18 pack. the board is an egf swallowtail 164cm.
Montoya is making his poor wife break trail in three feet of powder without poles!! Look at the poor girl struggling up to her armpits whilst Montoya hangs back and takes casual pictures. lol.gif
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spud: the skis I use are shaped with metal edges. I've found that traversing wasn't difficult until I encountered solid ice. the skin wasn't holding so I was nearly side stepping up the ice. I slid a couple of times, which must have been quite a sight since I'm not a skier must less a free heeler. If I had shoes I could have gone for the summit that day (a blue bird bummer) so you're right on about snowshoe versatility. I would have stashed my board but the option would have been there.

Ski crampons would have gotten me much further than I did, but I don't have them (not even sure if they're compatible). unfortunately they don't make crampons that fit on bulky snowboard boots either.

My skis aren't that clumsy when strapped to the pack, but I also use a slightly larger pack than necessary puffed up with a down jacket. I've taken a few falls but no serious cartwheels to speak of. skis are strapped to the sides so I don't imagine they would ever smack me in a tumble (maybe in the head but I wear a helmet).


Montoya: I've never skinned on real skis so I have no comparison. by shear physics they can't have the same float, but I wouldn't know the differences in 'x' snow conditions. otherwise it's just as fast (except you have a board on your back).

Good point about "what are our partners riding". to add to that, if you're the only one on shoes you're stuck in the back so you don't jack up the skin track.


Most of my experience is in spring corn conditions in the cascades which are very predictable. If I know I'm going to hit variable conditions I usually hike up, add crampons, summit, wait for corn (no sinkage in early corn). winter trips...well, cascades are known for 'cascade cement'...heavy powder so the shorter skis were never an issue.


kumapix: the ideal setup really depends on where/when you want to ride. for 'all around' the suggestions on this thread are excellent.


poles: another option to think of are whippets. if you're on glaciers or steep hard snow you need a way to self arrest (whether you're going up or down). whippets are from black diamond, but the attachment poles are two-piece and don't collapse as short as the 3 piece. there are other options discussed on this thread .


happy riding!!


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That was an infornative post, cheers Ricardo.


Originally posted by ricardo:

unfortunately they don't make crampons that fit on bulky snowboard boots either.

In this particular context do you mean ski crampons for approach skis and boarder boots, or just standard crampons for boarder boots? If the later, then do not despair. I own and have used at least 20 times a pair of Grivel G10 Wides. They have a wider toe piece and fit my snowboard boots like a dream. Besides the rhythm of hiking with poles, one of my favourite sensations is finishing off the last 300m stretch of a hike in crampons. They are totally satisfying and enjoyable things to have on your feet. It also means you are climbing something with a bit of consequence, which feels good in the stomach as well.





Always carry your crampons, they come in handy. Just a few weeks ago I had to give up on a minor Coulior because I couldn't climb any higher without crampons (feet were punching through the snow to the rocky base. Like most early season cover in Europe, the pack was almost entirely depth hoar and was like trying to climb up a 45 degree pile of sugar. Perhaps it wasn't so safe for me to ride, either....



You need crampons to reach the top (I did it last year)



This was as far as I got.


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