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Ralph Backstrom

Home Town: Truckee, CA
Local Mountains: Squaw Valley, CA

Splitboard Bindings: Carbon SL (medium)
Splitboard: Jones Carbon Solution 164

  • Stance: Regular
  • Stance Width: 23.5 inches
  • Stance Angles: 27° and -6°
  • Set Back: Varies by board

Boots: Haven’t found a favorite yet
Pack: TNF Powder Guide ABS Vest or Jones 30L Pack
Poles: BD
Skins: BD
Beacon: BCA Tracker 2

Binding of Choice

Carbon SL
$849.99

So, Mr. Backstrom, how did you get involved with Karakoram?

Jeremy Jones said there was a new split binding system that was better than “those other ones,” and I was eager to try them. The products as well as the passion and motivation of the crew there are a step above the rest.

What does splitboard product evolution mean to you, and how has binding design impacted your mountain experience?

Splitboard product evolution has to come from passionate snowboarders, eager to have a more enjoyable way for themselves and their friends to get up and down the mountain. When I’m immersed in the mountains I know my split kit can endure any terrain that I can, and it rides like a solid board, so I feel comfortable riding whichever line I pick.

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? What do you enjoy most about the design of the Karakoram bindings?

Everything about touring mode is great, but I really like how solid the ride mode feels.

What if we made a binding that had a glow-in-the dark fluorescent pink heelcup with glittery sparkles? Would you ride it?

Only to the Euro late-night- après-ski party presented by Karakoram

Any other futuristic colors you want to see?

Bright red

 Word has it that you are the Freeride World Champion. What does this accomplishment mean to you?

I’m actually the 3rd in my family, after my sister and brother (respectively) in skiing. That, and trying for it for 5 years or so makes me pretty proud of it.

Your style of shredding is what many folks would call “explosive”. How has resistance training in the off-season helped you to become a stronger snowboarder?

I’ve always been pretty strong, but I did a lot of balance and smaller muscle type of training this past fall before the heavy lifting, and felt much stronger. Strength and balance do wonders for snowboarding.

Do you have any personal feelings for Xavier de la Rue?

Xav is a super nice guy, and a ripping shredder, definitely pushes my limits!

How has splitboarding evolved your snowboarding as a whole?

It’s another possible means of transportation through/into the mountains, and is a very intimate way to experience the mountains.

Which is the most RAD: Pinning an aesthetic technical cliff line off an incredible summit, a 3000 foot couloir, a steep Cascadian face in perfect corn snow, or a 60 degree Alaskan spine wall?

Steep spine, to cliff line, into a couloir, a little of all of them!

Ever heard of the term “RADitude?”

I haven’t… sounds like altitude, but instead of measuring height above sea level it measures how rad something is?

Which turn has more meaning to you: Toeside or Heelside?

Toeside is more fun, but I think that high-quality heelside turns have become scarce.

How do you feel about splitboard method airs with a full backcountry pack?

Great!

Speaking of risk management, we’ve all now experienced the loss of friends and loved ones. What do you feel is the most important factor in making sure you come home?

Having safety be the top priority of the trip, instead of the peak, spine, couloir, air, etc. which should be your goal, and make good decisions based on safety. Worst case scenario, you don’t reach your goal, but you get some great experience, exercise, hang out in the mountains with friends, and you’ll be better prepared for the next mission.

What’s a successful day of shredding?

Coming out of the backcountry from good conditions, with all of the posse in good health.

How has splitboarding impacted your perception of the mountains as a whole?

Splitboarding is one of the most intimate and enjoyable ways to experience the mountains.

What is your personal significance of going into the mountains? Why do it?

Mainly because it’s fun, but it’s also a great way to clear your mind, do some thinking, and get away from everything.

Where is the most radical place your splitboard has taken you?

Antarctica

Which in your view is more exploratory: Skinning through a remote valley into the mountains, boot packing a knife edge ridge to get to your line, or breaking into a 10-year-old can of SPAM?

I feel like the SPAM would probably be the same as it was 10 years ago, so likely in between the knife edge ridge and the remote valley floor is where I’d explore.

How do you feel about bushwhacking? Ever heard of Devil’s Club?

Bushwhacking is generally enjoyable, but I don’t think I’d like to whack the devil’s club!

I heard that the Olympics are coming. I also heard that the Olympic Mountains are full of Devil’s Club. Any correlation there?

Thanks for the warning on the Devil’s club!

 


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