This course is the perfect step to take when you are ready to leave the lift lines behind. Heading into the backcountry can be daunting—there is new equipment to manage, avalanches to avoid, mountain weather, and a thousand decisions to make regarding all these things and wrong answers can lead to uncomfortable and dangerous outcomes. That is where we come in, KMAC’s expert local splitboard guides will break down all of this into manageable topics that will give you the base building blocks that the rest of your backcountry education will be built on, and along the way will show you some really good powder riding.

Who is this for? The Intro to Split course is ideally for a rider with a good deal of resort experience who wants to venture into the backcountry. This is the perfect next step after you purchase your first splitboard or if you want to try it before you pull the trigger. We highly recommend that you attend this course (or one like it) before you come to a Rec 1 avalanche course, otherwise you will slow the whole group down and probably be overwhelmed by juggling too much new information at once. We are often asked if skiers can attend, the answer is definitely! We will teach this with lots of specific splitboard craft knowledge but all of our guides also at least occasionally AT ski and 90%+ of what we discuss will apply to any backcountry user. 

Location: We will meet at our office in the Aspire building at the Stanley Hotel (520 Steamer Parkway) to make sure everyone has what they need and demos are dialed in before heading to Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hidden Valley was a ski resort from the fifties until it closed in 1991. Today, with lifts removed and restored to its natural condition, it makes a perfect location for learning to ride in the backcountry. With relatively low avalanche risk exposure, the option of riding all the way back to the trailhead from anywhere on the mountain, and a powerful powder-catching microclimate, HV is hard to beat as a Front Range backcountry schoolroom.

Duration: ~7 Hours (8am to around 3pm) 

Experience Level: Intermediate and above. We recommend, at a bare minimum, you can ride confidently on all “blues” and better yet “blacks” at a ski resort. If you ride harder than this don’t worry, our goal isn’t to teach you how to ride but how to operate safely in the backcountry and use your splitboard. 

Cost: $180 for one person, and $120 per person if you come with two or more people. 

Dates: Every Saturday from December 12th to March 30th or let us know if you would like to set up something private.

20/21 Weston Backcountry demo with Spark R&D Arc bindings available for $45 per day (50% off our normal rate)! Avalanche safety equipment (beacon/shovel/probe) included at no cost if needed. 

Overview of topics:

  • Equipment: general use, storage, maintenance, field repairs
  • Introduction to avalanche awareness *
  • Avalanche rescue techniques (beacon/shovel/probe) *
  • Terrain selection, trip planning, navigation
  • Skinning (skiing uphill): track setting, kick turns, pole use, and micro-terrain navigation
  • Transitions (changing from ski-mode to ride-mode and back)
  • Backcountry considerations: risk management and other backcountry specific topics
  • Particularities of using a snowboard in the backcountry and techniques to solve them
  • Next steps: avalanche education, recommendations of other areas to check out, apres…

*note: does not replace formal avalanche education