Why are you a splitboarder? How has splitboarding changed you as a snowboarder?
I love snowboarding, the backcountry, solitude and the mountains. The progression to splitting was very natural. Splitboarding has allowed me to expand my knowledge as a snowboarder, and taken me to places I could never have gone on a regular snowboard. Once I started splitting, it reshaped how I viewed snowboarding. Now when I think of snowboarding, I think about the backcountry and where my next tour is going to be, not about riding at the resorts.
How did you get into splitboarding, what peaked your interest? How long have you been splitboarding? Snowboarding?
I’ve been splitting for 7 years, and snowboarding for 17 years. After years of riding the resorts, I grew a bit weary of fighting the crowds and buying lift tickets. Plus, I didn’t want to hang up my board when the lifts closed. I spent a little time on snowshoes and figured I didn’t want any part of that for the long term. I’d heard about splitboards and they sounded like an excellent way to get the board off my back and to be able to keep up with my partner who was a tele skier. After some research and a lot of time spent on splitboard.com, I contacted Bently Blaho at Never Summer and ordered my first split, a 164 cm Titan. The board was great, albeit a bit heavy after I put my voile pucks, plates and Ride bindings on it, but I loved it. I still have the board and it’s held up really well…..a testament to Bently’s work.
How often do you get out? What is your typical tour like?
I usually get out about 40 days a season, but that includes patrolling at my local resort in the winter. I probably average 15-20 trips a year in the backcountry on the split. A typical winter tour is a day trip, averaging 4 or 5 laps of 800 to 1000 feet, conditions depending. Come spring and early summer, I tend to focus on bigger lines that require an overnight. The trip usually starts with a long slog of hiking or skinning over flat terrain to the base of a volcano, followed by a 3000-6000 foot climb, and then a great ride on spring corn. All days are end with a few cold ones from one of Oregon’s numerous micro breweries.
How do your tours change with the seasons? Are there different types of lines or areas you like to go to based on the seasons?
I enjoy touring all year long, and make it a point to get out at least once a month to find turns. In the winter, I do mostly day tours to local areas in the Oregon cascades, always in search of powder. The cascades offer excellent steeps and tree riding in some pretty unique areas. My splitting however is pretty much defined by the corn season. It’s what I look forward to all year long, and I try to get out on several overnight trips each spring to a few of Oregon’s volcanoes. Oregon has 14 major volcanic peaks, with many other smaller peaks that offer excellent spring splitting. 5000-6000 foot lines are possible and the scenery is beautiful.
Do you have a standard touring partner?
I used to tour pretty much exclusively with a good friend of mine who tele-skis. Over time, my partner base has expanded and now I have about 6-7 people I get out with on a regular basis. For safety and efficiency reasons, I shy away from large groups and usually try to keep tours to three people or less.
How do you balance your work, family life, etc. with how much you time you spend in the mountains?
I have a very demanding job and very understanding family. My wife is great and knows with how hard I work that I need to get out to stay sane. When I’m with the family, we make the most of our time, and do an incredible amount of fun activities. We have two boys, ages 6 and 3, and it’s been fun to get them out on the snow and teach them to learn to ski.
What do you do for work?
After working as a civil engineer in the development arena, I now manage a regional wastewater utility for the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area. I’m also involved in managing a variety of municipal stormwater activities. I also ski patrol at a local hill during the winter.
What’s your safety routine when in the mountains?
I read the avy forecast before I head out and pay close attention to the recent weather. Once on tour, I try to communicate with my partners to make sure we’re all on the same page. Usually I’ll do several simple tests along the skin track and a maybe dig a few hasty pits. If conditions look sketch, we’ll dig a full pit and do a ECT test, among others. We’ll also do ski cuts carefully. I try to practice a lot with my equipment while ski patrolling to keep skills sharp for the backcountry
What’s your split set up? Board, bindings, boots, pack, etc
I’m currently riding a custom 161cm Chimera Mace w/11m sidecut, Karakoram SL bindings, Burton Driver X boots and a Black Diamond Anarchist pack.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve been riding Karakoram bindings since the initial release of the first split 30’s, and they haven’t let me down. Working with Bryce and Tyler has been great, and I’m glad I can support a local northwest grassroots company.
Check out Matt’s website, www.splitboardoregon.com for more information on touring in Oregon.