What makes Mount Rainier so special?
Mt Rainier is an icon of the Pacific Northwest. On a clear day it dominates the skyline for several hundred miles and rises up to 14, 400 feet. Big glaciers and valley drainages spill off of her. Most folks don’t realize that most of the mountain is wilderness and it’s quiet just off the beaten path.
As a professional snowboard guide and Mount Rainier Climbing Ranger, what would you say we still need to do in order to make the ULTIMATE mountain tool?
Continue to evolve the interface of the snowboard boot, binding and board. There are a few evil geniuses out there working in garages and posting their tweaks on the splitboarding forums. Bryce and Tyler are a major part of this convergent evolution as they have progressed their prototypes into bomber equipment for legit backcountry shredding.
We are SUPER stoked to have you be part of the family! How did you get involved with Karakoram?
I am really stoked to be a part of the Karakoram family! I got involved with Karakoram when I noticed they were making splitboard bindings on the next level. My prior splitboard bindings were less than ideal so I bought a pair of Karakorams and haven’t looked back.
What does splitboard product evolution mean to you, and how has binding design impacted your mountain experience?
Right now I see splitboarding in its infancy of evolution. Take surfing for example: there are boards made for every type of wave in the ocean. Snowboarding has progressed in this direction offering a myriad of board choices, different flex patterns, widths, etc. Splitboarding has come a long way since the early days of pioneering the backcountry and has a long way to go. Since more people have gotten into the sport, we have seen more innovations and designs. More niches pop up because there is a market for them. This is a consumer driver industry, or so they say, so I ask the splitboarders out there, how many times have you been passed up by your two planked brethren or felt sketched out on a steep sidehill? We can keep evolving and I envision that splitboard gear will evolve like surfing has, with a different board for the different waves out there.
You’ve accumulated an impressive amount of time heli-guiding in Alaska over the years. What would you say is the benefit of getting heli time for learning how to ride that type of terrain?
Getting experience in the big mountains is invaluable. It’s a process that takes quite a bit of time. Helicopter access speeds that up. A full day in the heli and you might get somewhere between 5 to 9 runs at 3 to 5 thousands feet of vert a run. What I enjoy more now is mechanized travel into the mountains for a drop off. You can tour all day at your own speed and soak up the experience in a different way.
Riding a snowboard down huge mountains has to be one of the most incredible experiences a human being can have. What impact would you say big mountain riding has had on your character as a person, and on your everyday life?
It’s been an evolving process. It became a dream to go and live in the mountains when I was young and fueled the fire when I was working the less desirable jobs to save up cash to make that dream real. When I finally got to the starting point, I wanted to charge everything and was fairly goal driven. I got stomped a few times and it made me wise up a bit. The mountains remind me that I am small and must be humble and strong to walk and ride among them. Thankfully I have had some kind folks to help show me the light along the way. In everyday life I am always interested in finding the flow, which is ultimately just a component of happiness.
Nowadays, it can be reasonably estimated that 90+ percent of all snowboarding products are made in China by non-snowboarders. In fact, one can almost say [currently] the economy of our sport relies entirely on foreign manufacturing. What do you feel is the holistic impact of having a local Washington supply base, and riding bindings that are hand built in the USA by snowboarders with passion?
Having a company and product made in the USA is rare these days. Having moved to the pacific northwest from seasonal migrations up and down the west coast, I’m stoked to support a company that manufactures their bindings in Washington. The bindings are hand built and if there is ever an issue (highly unlikely), the guys at the shop are going to walk you through it each step of the way and get you riding at 100% again.