Ian Holmes- Alberta, Canada

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Why are you a splitboarder?

Well the snow is better, the lines are more challenging, the terrain more varied, and things never get that tracked out. I mean it also keeps me from being arrested, because of how badly I want to hit the guy in the lift-line who is smoking, and yelling, and then leaves his crushed beer can on the ground *grin*. However, that aside, I do have to say that being able to get away from people, the noise, and all of the distractions that make a lot of resorts feel like extensions of the city is a big part of why I am out there. As a rider it has exposed me to deeper snow, more challenging riding, and a very different community. I think all of that can be seen in the way that back country riding is now far more of a life-style for me rather than simply being something I do a few days every winter.

How did you get into splitboarding, what peaked your interest? How long have you been splitboarding? Snowboarding?

I grew up skiing and messing around in the mountains. However, I started split-boarding three seasons ago because of a girl I was dating. She would always come home stoked and talking about how awesome it was out there. To see someone that fired up and passionate about it definitely caught my attention. So when I was back from some Ice/Mixed climbing competitions (and was sick of freezing my ass off all winter in caves and beside frozen waterfalls) I figured I should get out there with her so we could spend more time together. Once that happened the world shifted. I think I put in 60 days in the last four months of that season. Everything I love about the solitude and escape of the mountains was suddenly an option on a much grander scale. It is just a whole different world of riding, and one that I find I enjoy way more. Everything from getting off of big alpine lines, through cruisy pillow lines and glades… it is all amazing. Plus at this point, most of my good friends are people that I spend a lot of time with out in the back country.

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How often do you get out? What is your typical tour like?

I rode 94 days last year. So on average I would say that during the actual riding season I am out anywhere from 4-6 days a week. This first week of October I put in four days of riding, and likely could have made it five but opted out so I could sleep in on one of my days off. This year I am hoping to break the 150 day mark.
The typical tour varies over the season. I put in a 13.5hr, 2200m, 35km day in August to go and ride off an 11000er… but this last week I have been going in and doing quick 4hr trips to bag couloirs or hit early season spots. It really just depends whether the day is about doing laps and playing, or trying to get an actual line/peak accomplished.

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?

Summer riding is all about long walks, bike rides, and either glacier riding, or alpine stuff. Winter is more about being able to tour from the car and minimizing the amount of walking I have to do. As to what actual lines are getting ridden; it comes down to stability. If conditions are good then I will try to get down some bigger lines while they have epic snow conditions, however a lot of the super steep couloir and alpine lines have to wait for spring/summer. Winter on the other hand is often about just having a blast with friends and riding glades and pillows.

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Do you have a standard touring partner?

Last year I had three main people whom I did most of my riding with. My main partner is getting knee surgery this year. Second one I am no longer dating. The third is in school. So it looks like I will be riding with some of my other groups a fair bit more this season. Though I admit that I have been doing a lot of solo days so far this year, just making really good decisions on terrain choices, and not having any issue with backing down from lines. Music and steep couloirs have been pretty zen so far.

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How do you balance your work, family life, etc. with how much you time you spend in the mountains?

Balance? Um… I don’t. I am lucky in that I have a great job. I only work four day weeks, and two of those days I am off just after noon. However, everything else actually kind of falls apart. I am obsessive.

What do you do for work?

I am a strength and movement coach. I work with a wide range of athletes in terms of training, rehab, and nutrition. I also do a lot of work with corporate clients as that is what actually pays the bills. There is likely a long list of things that could be added as “I also…”, but they are just extras.

What’s your safety routine when in the mountains?

Paying attention and being willing to bail would be the big ones.
I mean a big D-handle shovel, a high end beacon, good partners I trust, knowing snow conditions, practicing with my tools, having radios, communicating clearly, all that stuff… it is essential. However paying attention to the terrain and making good calls is huge. I aim for the attitude that says I need to adapt to the mountain, not the other way around.

What’s your split set up? Board, bindings, boots, pack, etc

Depends a bit on what I am riding. Alpine lines always end up involving a bit more gear.
I ride: 161 Jones Solution. Karakorum SLs. Burton Hail boots for most stuff (K2 T1s and Sportiva Spantiks are the other boots depending on the lines). BD axis 33 pack (some lines I ride with a mammut air bag). Mammut Pulse Beacon. This year I am waiting to get my hands on one of the new Jones Ultracrafts. Pretty stoked on that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

This is one of the few sports that I have found that I can be equally stoked on mellow days as on the high intensity ones. I love that I can do it year round… and I love that the people in the industry are just as stoked on it as I am. I am definitely grateful that I was introduced to this sport by people who are so passionate about it.

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