Snowshoes and snowboards go together like peanut butter and jelly in the backcountry. But to get where you’re going quicker — and keep up with skier friends striding ahead — there’s nothing like a splitboard. And for those in the market for a setup, there’s a new player in the game: Colorado’s Never Summer.
With one of the only three-year warranties in the snowbiz, Never Summer has a well-earned reputation for bulletproof decks. The new split board, as the name suggests, is a split version of the Summit model, NS’s powder/freeride board that’s mated with the venerable Voile Split kit, which allows the bindings to easily be rotated when the board is split in two so each section can be ridden like a ski — critical for XC-like approaches.
The hefty, $1,300 price tag includes a set of climbing skins.
The Summit Split is available from the factory, and each board will be made to order by the Blahoo brothers, who have worked in the NS factory for 13 years and have made splits on the side for a decade. Tim and Tracey Canaday, the hands-on owners of Never Summer, are personally involved in designing and engineering the board as well.
With a combination of rocker and camber, the board is touted to have the float of a rocker deck, while its camber makes sure you hold an edge when you encounter hard snow at wind-scoured elevations. The camber also adds stability at speed, according to Never Summer. The company further touts “incredible spring for hop-turns in the steeps” and a setup that is “nimble in tight chutes, trees and between rocks.”
But all of this begs a question: how effective is the hybrid camber when you’re skating cross-country? NS says, “There is less drag skating out of places than a regular camber board that pushes into the snow.”
If you’re going to get in the backcountry, do it now. That way you can say you were into it long before it got popular with snowboarders — which, according to my crystal ball, is going to be the winter 2010/11 when “Deeper”, the collaboration between big mountain slayer Jeremy Jones and Teton Gravity Research, is released. The film features Jones as well as folks like Travis Rice killing big lines without the aid of helis, lifts or snowmobiles.
Buy now and say you were down BD (Before Deeper). And from the looks of it, you could do much worse than the Never Summer Custom Split. www.neversummer.com
—Stephen Krcmar lives and works in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. His review of the best boards of 2010 is in the November issue of Men’s Journal.