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Category: Cool Stuff, Fitness.

Did you find that your fitness level held back your splitboarding last season? Maybe another lap or two sounded fun, but your body was telling you that your day was over?  If so, you’re not alone – splitboard touring and riding is hard work.

If you want to make more laps and get more vert next winter, you should start preparing your body now – the Split Fitness offseason training blog series is here to help guide you. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be releasing blogs that hit on the summer training topics: building an aerobic base, increasing muscular endurance, and improving lower limb stability and balance through active recovery. In this blog we take a look at Aerobic Training.

Develop a Training Program that Works for You

Developing a base of cardiovascular fitness should be the primary focus of your offseason training. Splitboard touring is an aerobically demanding activity, and long ascents require a high level of fitness. Having a strong aerobic foundation will allow you to climb faster, farther, and complete more laps on the days when the snow is fresh and deep.

An important tool that can be used to monitor your progress within and between sessions is your heart rate. If you plan to use heart rate, begin by using the following simple formula: Max Heart Rate = 220 – (your age in years). Monitoring your heart rate will allow you to be more efficient in your training, and to make the most of your time. While some people prefer to train with heart rate monitors, you can easily calculate your heart rate by taking your pulse for 10 seconds and multiplying the beats you count by six. There are also sweet apps for iOS and Android devices that turn your phone into an actual heart rate monitor – two popular apps are Instant Heart Rate and Runtastic Heart Rate Pro.

calculate max heart rate

In preparation for the splitboard season, your offseason aerobic training sessions should be long duration and light (60%-70% max heart rate) to moderate (70%-80% max heart rate) intensity. While planning your training, avoid increasing duration by more than 5-10% each week to avoid common overuse injuries like sprains or strained muscles. Quality is more important and quantity at this point, so if you are struggling to complete a workout, just repeat that workout the next week to give your body time to adapt instead of increasing the duration or mileage.

High Intensity Interval Training

You can also complement your aerobic training by completing one high-intensity training session per week (80-100% maximal heart rate). High Intensity Interval Training (also known as HIIT) combines short bursts of high-intensity activity with varied intervals of low to moderate intensity exercise. The advantages of HIIT include improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness, blood pressure, cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol profiles, and reduced abdominal fat and body weight while maintaining muscle mass. HIIT training can be completed over a short period of time, and can be accomplished in many different settings such as sprinting, running stair sets, bike sprints, and even resistance training.

Your Plan

We know that’s a lot of information. So, how do you apply that information to make a schedule that works for you and helps you accomplish your goals? Using the guidance in the paragraphs above we created three offseason training schedules for three different splitboarders that have separate styles and fitness levels. Look for similarities between their goals and schedules and your own to help you create an offseason training plan.

     The Beginner

     The Intermediate

     The Expert

Building up an aerobic base now will pay big dividends next winter on the skin track because of the improved cardiovascular and respiratory capacity, and the metabolic adaptations in your muscle, blood cells, and other systems. However, aerobic training is not the entire battle. If your muscles are exhausted at the top of your climb, your physical and mental performance will both be affected. In our next blog we’ll look at what muscles you should focus on training on this summer to improve your splitboarding, and how to incorporate strength training into your summer schedule.

Bonus challenge: depending on your activity of choice, consider adding weight (such as a weighted vest or backpack) to replicate the gear you carry in the winter. A weighted vest should be 5-10% of your body weight for running-based activities.

Ideas for Aerobic Training:

Trail running – improve stability and coordination by running on uneven surfaces.

Mountain biking – improve stability and coordination by biking on uneven surfaces. Mountain biking is aerobically demanding, but can be more difficult to maintain a low-moderate intensity.

Road biking – tight control over steepness, length, duration and can easily monitor and control heart rate.

Rowing – low impact, full body engagement.

Swimming – low-impact day aerobic training that also incorporates your upper body, but can be more challenging to monitor heart rate.

Running stairs or hills sets – a good training exercise for your one high-intensity day per week.

SpitboardicTrack – The SplitbordicTrack is an excellent training machine and fully Spark R&D approved.

~ Celine Valentin, Official Spark R&D Fitness Consultant

CelineCeline is a graduate student at Montana State University completing a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition. Her graduate coursework focuses on the physiological and biomechanical processes of skiing, snowboarding, and splitboarding. Other than snowboarding and splitboarding, Celine enjoys mountain biking, fly fishing, and coaching school soccer in Bozeman, Montana.

References

Baechle, T. R., Earle, R. W. (2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 3rd edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Kenney, W. L., Wilmore, J. H., Costill, D. L. (2012). Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 5th edition. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics

Rantalainen, T., Ruotsalainen, I., & Virmavirta, M. (2012). Effect of weighted vest suit worn during daily activities on running speed, jumping power, and agility in young men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association, 26(11), 3030–3035. http://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318245c4c6

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Category: Spark in the Field.

We-Love-Spring-Touring-Header
Spring is one of the best times to get out into the backcountry on your splitboard. The days are longer, the temperature is milder, snow stability is generally better, and BBQ’s and brews back at the car after a good session are commonplace. Not to mention, as temperatures warm up many outdoor enthusiasts make a premature transition to summer mode leaving the skin track nice and quiet.

Here are a couple of our favorite things about spring splitboarding that keep us stoked on snow well beyond when most people are thinking about winter sports. Plus, we have some helpful hints about skin storage and board preparation when you are finally ready to call it quits for the year.

Corn Snow
Shredding corn snow is almost as much fun as riding pow, almost. Corn snow is formed by the repeated freezing and thawing of the snow pack which creates large, rounded snow crystals (aka corn). Timing is very important in the spring; get out too early and the snow can still be dangerously icy, too late, and it can be too slushy or sticky. The sweet spot occurs when the corn snow is ‘ripe,’ meaning the bonds between all the large, rounded crystals are just beginning to breakdown. This is usually found mid-morning or late in the afternoon as it begins to cool again. The timing of when the snow ‘corns up’ is highly aspect dependent, so give that some thought as you plan your departure. Google Earth is awesome for route planning, and also has a time slider (upper left of picture) which will show you what aspects are getting sunlight at certain times of the day. This can be extremely helpful in determining when you should get out.

Check out Avalanche Educator Shaun Nauman’s presentation at the Silverton Splitfest for an idea of how he uses Google Earth when trip and route planning.

Fairy Lake 2

The Fairy Lake zone in the Bridger Mountains, MT.

New Terrain
In the heart of winter, there are some lines and zones that are never or are rarely ‘in’ due to the snowpack. Making a smart but conservative decision on lines that look so good is tough but ultimately the safest approach. These decisions are easier for the patient backcountry rider who knows that many of these lines will be good come spring when the warm weather solidifies the once sketchy slopes. Shredding a line you’ve been eyeballing and researching all winter is well worth the wait and extremely gratifying.

Longer Days
There are always some epic days in the winter that end before you’d like. The snow is perfect and the crew is having a blast, but by 4pm it’s getting pretty dark and it’s time to make for the trailhead. While you need to always be conscious of the time in the backcountry, it is not nearly as big of a concern come April. The extra daylight gives you time to plan a longer approach, hike one more couloir, or just relax and enjoy being back in the mountains with your friends. If you’re planning for a long day it’s a good idea to check what time sunset is before you head out.

clark corey

Clark Corey scouts a spring line in Hyalite Canyon, MT.

Solitude
There are many reasons people choose backcountry riding over resort riding. We won’t list them all but something many backcountry riders share is their enjoyment of the solitude found touring in the backcountry. Each season more people are venturing out into the backcountry. As a whole, if done responsibly, we feel this is a good thing – but it means sharing the skin track with more people. In the spring, a lot of folks who are active in the backcountry during the winter, begin transitioning into summer sports like hiking and mountain biking. This means less people on the skin track and in your favorite zones during the spring! Let them tear up the single track; there is good snow at higher elevations just waiting for the splitboarder who is not ready to say goodbye to winter.

Sean Busby

Sean Busby alone on the skin track. P: Mollie Busby

Additional Keys to Success

Glop Stopper – A special wax that keeps the sticky snow from building up on your skins. Apply liberally at the trailhead.

Crampons – During that freeze and thaw cycle you often encounter some icy skin tracks in the morning. Crampons can help you charge dicey terrain to score the best conditions for the ride down.

Additional Water – You’re getting a lot of sun and sweating more. Carry more water than you do on your normal winter excursions.

Sun Protection – This may sound obvious, but it is astounding how many people come back from a day in the mountains with severe sunburn. Some high SPF sunscreen and a good hat can go a long way to keeping the sun’s rays off your skin.

A Safety Note
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security during the spring. You are still in the backcountry and spring avalanches still occur. Any number of different types of avalanche problems can still exist – take a look back in the Spark blog archives to check out Clark Corey’s blog on spring riding. Clark’s blog is really informative and covers some potential spring hazards on a more detailed level. Be especially aware of rapidly warming temperatures when touring in the spring. If you are seeing wet sluff, roller balls, you’re punching through to manky snow, or the slush is becoming boot top height, it’s best to call it a day

Handford Couloir

Mike Handford on Lassen Peak in California. P: Jeff Steele

Hints for Summer Storage

Skins – First, make sure your skins are dry before you store them. Second, use a skin saver, people! This will help keep your skin glue in better shape than simply sticking the two skins together. Lastly, store the skins somewhere cool and dry. Be wary of garages that bake in the sun, or even, gasp…, the trunk of your car. Both could potentially get way too hot and damage the glue. There are few more details on how to apply the skin saver on our skin tech page.

Board – First, give your board a nice hot wax before the summer hiatus. The base is probably thirsty from all the corn snow shredding anyway, let it spend the off-season in comfort with some fresh wax. If you really want that base to soak up some wax and be protected, you can leave it un-scraped until the fall. Store the board somewhere dry, not too hot, and preferably in a storage bag. We all know how expensive backcountry gear can be, don’t neglect it in the summer – make sure it’s good to go for that early storm cycle next October.

Ahh spring! We love the bountiful corn harvest, open lines, and empty skin tracks. The Bridger Mountains in our backyard are currently in prime spring shape; we plan on splitboarding into June!

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Category: Spark in the Field, Spark World Wide.

Chris CoulterChris Coulter is a busy man these days spending over 130 days each season on the snow. His life in the snowboard world has taken him from being a well-known, pro shredder in the early 2000’s to a highly respected, year-round snowboard guide working in some of the most iconic mountains on the planet. He follows the endless winter so many of us dream about – spending the first half of the season in Colorado, spring in Alaska, and summering in the Andes of South America. Chris was nice enough to take a few minutes to chat with us about what he’s been up to, and what is on tap for him.

How long have you been snowboarding? I have been snowboarding for 26 years.

What about splitboarding? I’d say about 10 seasons.

Chris Coulter Roped Up

Photo: @cdavenski

What are you up to these days? I guide at Silverton Mountain in Colorado December through mid-March, then at SEABA Heli in Alaska mid-March through April. Working with a variety of clients in different mountains and snow packs keeps me really engaged. It is truly a pleasure to get to work for these operations; they have helped me grow immensely as a professional. In the summer I work at SASS Global Travel (SGT) and Sled Chile in South America. I spend a little more time on my splitboard during the summer months which is a great way to mix up the year of boarding. The last five seasons I have been getting 130+ days on snow working with clients between North and South America.

That’s a lot of time on snow each year. What do you do when you have some down time? Usually when I am not chasing winter I can be found in Salt Lake City climbing, biking, or training for the next trip.

How long have you been guiding? I started working at SASS Global Travel Argentina seven years ago. This is year five with Silverton Mountain and SEABA Heli.

What or who got you into guiding? I was inspired by many of the great guides I worked with when I was doing a lot of traveling and filming early in my snowboard career. I was a client of SEABA Heli, SASS, and Silverton Mountain before I started working for them.

Chris Coulter

Photo: @cdavenski

What kind of training or certifications do you have as a guide? I have my Avalanche 2 and Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC) medical. I am always learning more about mountain travel. I try to take advantage of any opportunity to learn that I can – skill specific classes, knowledgeable friends, and professional mentors all play a part in this.

What is the best part of what you do on a day to day basis? Typically I get to ride amazing powder. Often my clients are on vacation, so my day at work is very fun!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? Seasonal work mixed with so much travel is tough. Being sure to get enough rest is also a challenge during long guiding stretches, especially as I try to add in my own recreational pursuits.

How important to you is the equipment you use on the mountain? Equipment is very important. When deep in the backcountry you depend greatly on your gear; having the right gear can make a huge difference on your experience. I spend a lot of days on my equipment and I’m hard on it. It’s super important to maintain your gear and to trust it.

As a pro snowboarder, the progression always seems to be new tricks, bigger lines etc… What is the progression and growth path for you as a guide? As a guide progression means spending time in avalanche terrain, making the best decisions you can, then analyzing your decisions and learning from any mistakes. Learning from mentors is a fun component in the process as well, both in the classroom and in the field.

Chris Coulter Shredding

Photo: @cdavenski

Thinking back to your days of filming – do you have any parts or seasons that really stick out to you or that you’re most proud of? Why? I think my first parts with Finger on Da Trigger’s “Represent” and Kingpin Productions’ “Brainstorm” stick out to me. I filmed both of these parts in one season, they were my first main stream parts. I was struggling to make it as a pro shred; these segments were a big break through for me. I am really proud to have been in any Absinthe film as they are an amazing crew to work with. Also, stoked to have filmed with Defective films owner Sean Johnson who is a legend; it was an honor to work with him and his buddies in Canada.

What was your first snowboard? My first board was a Burton Cruise 135. I actually still have it. The bindings are crazy skybacks that don’t fold down.

When was the last time you slid a hand rail? Urban, I think it was the rail garden, playing around about seven years ago. In the park I hit some rails two summers ago when we did not have much snow in South America.

Growing up, who did you look up to snowboarding? What about now? Growing up, Peter Line and Johan Olofsson. These days – Jeremy Jones, Xavier De La Rue, Forrest Shearer, Skylar Holgate, Andrew Burns, all my co-workers at Silverton Mountain.

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Who are your current sponsors? Spark R&D, Eddie Bauer, Jones Snowboards, Smith, Bluebird, Cheetah Factory Racing

What’s next for you? More family, friends, knowledge, powder, spines and couloirs!

Chris, thanks so much for your time. Good luck the rest of the season.

Photo: @cdavenski

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Category: Avalanche Education, Spark in the Field.

Words: Clark Corey

December, January and February are busy months for avalanche education in North America. As March rolls around, there’s a whole new generation of backcountry enthusiasts who are excited to get out and use their newfound knowledge. But, just because you’ve completed your avalanche course, does that mean you’re good to go?

For a recent graduate of any course, whether it be an awareness course, a level 1 or a level 2, it’s imperative to remember that there is still a lot to learn. Creating a solid baseline of backcountry knowledge involves getting the education from formal training, and learning the right way to do many things. But just as important, riders need to apply this to everyday touring, and gain practical experience. There’s no shortcut here, you just have to be diligent, use your skills, and go riding!

Avalanche Course

Get Out!

Formal education goes hand in hand with real life experience. It’s one thing to talk about metamorphism in class, then look at grains in a snowpit, but it can really click when you get to watch the snowpack change over the course of an entire season.

Splitboarding

Sure the concept of “just get out” sounds simple and obvious, but as a co-instructor of mine put it “this knowledge has an expiration date”. If you don’t get out and use it, you will certainly forget it. I’ve run into several past students a year after taking a course, and when I’ve asked, “have you been getting out?” the response has been, “no, I haven’t gotten out since the course”. Get out with your friends and make some decisions, look at the snow, and talk about travel protocol. Try to get out with both people who have more experience than you, as well as, folks who have a similar level of knowledge – so you’re forced to work together. The more you do this practice in the field, the more fluid it will become.

digging pits in the backcountry

Know What’s Going On

Keep track of the avalanche forecast multiple times a week, and better yet, every day. Jumping blindly into a random forecast the day you’re getting out makes a lot less sense than knowing what has happened leading up to that day. You’ll learn a lot just by staying plugged-in, as avy centers tend to explain why conditions are what they are, and what weather events lead up to this, which can help connect the dots. Think about what the problems and hazards are, and look for these while in the mountains so you can start to translate field observations to avalanche conditions. Take note that your local avalanche center isn’t just a one way street – they love to hear what you’re seeing out there. By submitting an observation, this helps to consolidate your thoughts on the day, and boil it down to the main problems that you observed. This reflection process is a valuable part of the learning process.

Avalanche course next step Avalanche course next step

.Practice Makes Perfect

This goes for all skills, but one you should seriously consider not getting rusty on is rescue. It’s one of those skills that you want to be good at, but never have to use. And by practice I mean not just the beacon part, but getting the probe and shovel out of your pack, and performing these steps too.

Avalanche course

Be Humble

Courses are jam packed with information, and it’s common to walk away feeling much more prepared. Although true, be careful with over confidence and always ease into situations. Remember to rationalize decisions with plenty of pre-planning and current observations –  and know that being conservative is never the wrong answer. Courses aren’t intended to unlock bigger lines, but rather to help people realize when it’s safe or not safe to enter steep avalanche terrain. Having more experience and education doesn’t mean that pushing the in-between conditions is now okay, it just means you now know better.

snowpit analysis

Read Up

There are tons of good resources available, which will likely make a lot more sense after spending a weekend learning about avalanches in a course. Books like Tremper’s Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain is great as it covers all the fundamentals and then some. For more advanced and technical material check out the Avalanche Handbook by David McClung and Peter A. Schaerer. Note, I advise people to get a strong hold on the basics first, before delving deeper into more complex subjects, as this can just add unnecessary clutter to decision making

More Education

After you’ve had some time to hone your baseline skills, there are always opportunities to learn more from another avalanche course. There’s likely a course up the ladder, a refresher, or a one day rescue course, so stay aware of local classes and be thinking about your next education goal.

About the Author

Clark Corey is an avalanche educator based out of Bozeman, MT and works for the American Avalanche Institute.

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Category: News, Products.

For more information, please see the company press release below.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2016

Spark R&D Announces a Revolution in Splitboard Training with the SplitbordicTrack

Bozeman, Mont – Spark R&D announced today that it is releasing a revolutionary splitboard workout machine called the SplitbordicTrack.

“We couldn’t be more excited to release this new product to the world of splitboarders,” explains Will Ritter, owner and lead designer at Spark R&D. “Now everyone can enjoy the substantial health benefits of splitboard touring from pretty much anywhere, anytime of year.”

The SplitbordicTrack weighs a feathery 62 pounds and has wheels facilitating easy transportation. The machine also features adjustable front legs for those looking for steeper climb and a more calorie-smashing workout.

The ShredBro System ™ may be the best kept secret in the workout world. The computerized personal performance monitor has all the bells and whistles of a modern day smart phone with distance tracking capabilities, an LCD display screen, and super-positive voice prompts – move over SIRI.

“We’ve been developing this technology over the last 4 years at Spark R&D,” says Ritter. “We’ve kept this project very close to the chest and under wraps because we knew how big it was going to be when we released it to the public. We plan to change the world with this machine.”

The product is set to hit the market in early June, just as the snow is disappearing in the Northern Hemisphere. Company officials explained that pre-orders are already outpacing their original forecasts.

###

Media Inquiries:
Dan Ventura – dan@sparkrandd.com

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Category: Cool Stuff, Spark in the Field, Spark World Wide.

Connections Film Project

Rafael Pease Profile 300x300My name is Rafael Pease and I’m a 21 year old splitboarder, burgeoning mountaineer, film producer, and student. I go to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder and splitboard as much as I can. I’m obsessed with it.

This winter I’m combining my love of splitboarding and my love of film making with the Connections Film project. There are many reasons why I helped create this project with fellow Spark R&D Ambassador, splitboarder, and activist, Tamo Campos; the most obvious one being that it gives me the opportunity to travel and explore the world. I love splitboarding, meeting new people, and exploring!

Connections is more than just another ‘bangers’ snowboard flick, this film documentary has a twist to it. I want to connect the film with my style of traveling and splitboarding. I always try to achieve a better understanding about the places I travel to, and the people I meet there. I want to know what the environmental issues are in certain regions, learn about the cultural traditions of the people that live there, and really get to know the people who live where I travel on a more personal level. I want to connect.

Connections Film

Rafael and Tamo share a snack in the pow fields

With this film the goal is to of course do some epic splitboarding, but also to show many of the unique aspects of the regions we are visiting. We will give the communities a platform to share their culture, and to voice the challenges they face in a changing world.

The first leg of this journey brought us to Japan and the north island of Hokkaido. The people are the friendliest I have ever met in my life. We had the privilege of interviewing a diverse group of really interesting north islanders. We spoke with descendants of the Ainu people about governmental land restrictions, a blueberry farmer who protects the island’s largest trees from developers, as well as nuclear activists and sheep farmers.

Connections Film

Activists

No matter how different our backgrounds were, it was amazing to connect and relate with the people of Hokkaido on environmental issues. It was a common thread that bound us all – we all work to try and make the world a better place. The passion they displayed for the issues was inspirational; we’re proud to help them tell their unique stories.

Connections Film Interview

Real connections were made during the interview process

We did, of course, do some splitboarding too. And by some, I mean a lot. Most of our days began at 6am and ended well after 6pm. We were splitboarding all over the Niseko backcountry area and deep into Daisetsuzan National Park. The snow was some of the lightest, driest, and deepest I’ve ever ridden. If you make it to Japan, bring a snorkel!

Mt. Yotei

Secret location on Mt. Yotei

One of the coolest and most unique aspects of Japan (and there are tons), are the onsens or hot springs. After a twelve hour day, the crew and I would often stop on the way home to relax and rejuvenate with some hot spring water. By the time we’d make it back to our pad, we had just enough energy to cook some noodles on our electric water heaters and prep our packs for the next day.

We are now back stateside and have been filming here in Colorado for a solid month. I will be using my spring break to go film in British Columbia if the snow is good. I’m also planning trips to Alaska in May, and Chile sometime over the summer.

poeta busto2

A monk contemplates the meaning of life, connections and deep pow

I have put together an amazing crew of cinematographers, photographers, mountaineers, and shredders. These folks share our passion for splitboarding, environmentalism, and exploration. I am beyond stoked right now with how the project has started and I look forward to where it’s going.

team

The Connections Film Crew

Follow along on our social channels for weekly updates on what we are up to, and what is coming next. Our goal is to have the project filmed, edited and ready to show next fall.

Website: www.connectionsfilm.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/connectionsfilm

Instagram: @ConnectionsFilm

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Category: Cool Stuff, Spark World Wide.

Nayla TawaNayla Tawa is a world traveler, snowboarder, and avid splitboarder with an ambitious spirit that guides her from one adventure to the next. In 2012 she set off for Kyrgyzstan to film a documentary centered on Hayat Tarikov and his efforts to create a sustainable ski industry in the remote mountain village of Arslanbob.

Perhaps you noticed the word ‘return’ in the title. This could imply a follow up visit, perhaps a chance to check on the progress of a project long since completed. But this is not a follow up visit – this is a return to complete a project that never began.

On her third day in Kyrgyzstan, Nayla and her group were involved in a very serious car accident. The wreck left Nayla and the Nayla Tawa post accidentother team members severely injured and in terrible shape. With inadequate medical facilities and transportation; she spent two days duct-taped to a snowboard (with no pain meds) before she and her crew were evacuated.

Four years, multiple surgeries, and countless hours of rehabilitation later, Nayla is returning to finish what she started. Her team consists of experts in multiple fields, from pro skiers and medical trainers to backcountry guides, cinematographers and photographers.

Kyrgyzstan Group As stated above, the goal of this project is to help create a sustainable ski industry in Arslanbob. The mountains and terrain in Kyrgyzstan are world class – huge and coated in light snow all winter. However, the village is very difficult to access and lacks much of the basic necessities and infrastructure for winter tourism. The team will work with local guide Hayat Tarikov to teach members of the community, young and old, to ski and snowboard. For those who can already ski and ride, guide training will be available. It will not be all mountain training though, the team will also work to educate the local population on the process of responsibly growing winter recreation.

Return to Krygyzstan Baggage

The #Return2KG team has now officially touched down in Kyrgyzstan (with 1500 lbs of gear in tow) and has made it safely over treacherous mountain passes to their destination of Arslanbob. You can follow the team’s location and social updates in real-time with https://www.gramwire.com/returntokg.

This is a great project and we’re stoked to help support it by supplying the group and soon-to-be Kyrgyz guides with splitboard bindings. Other contributors on the snowboard side were Jones, who came in with the splitboards, and Never Summer who supplied 15 youth snowboards for the village children to learn on.

Check out http://www.returntokyrgyzstan.com/ for project news and more information on Nayla, her team, and people of Arslanbob.

We will update the Spark Blog when we hear from the #Return2KG crew, stay tuned!

Kyrgyzstan

 

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Category: Cool Stuff, Products.

Gathered around a two foot by six foot poster in the corridor that connects the shop and the warehouse, Spark R&D employees weigh the many options they are presented with, and enthusiastically voice their opinions to one another. They are looking at a poster with 54 possible color combinations for bindings, and they are discussing which choices deserve one of their three votes. Their vote matters, the field that started at 54 will be narrowed down to the top 15 employee choices before the final selections are made.

color selection

Not everyone’s favorite color or color combination makes it to the final 15, but the process is fun regardless. Employees enjoy the extra participation in deciding the look of our final product, and as a company we appreciate the valuable input they provide. This has really become a cool tradition, a team effort, and something we all look forward to each year.

In order to choose the final colorways for the upcoming season we have to mock-up the 15 top choices. This means going through the full manufacturing process, from bending and milling the parts, to anodizing the colors and assembling the final product (done almost entirely in-house). Not all of the mock-ups will or can make it into the upcoming season’s line. So, what happens to all those perfectly good, production grade splitboard bindings?

We make Bonus Bindings!

Steve hard at work making Bonus Binders

These gems are the unique color combos (some one-of-a-kind) that were part of the final 15 choices voted on by the Sparklers (a.k.a. Spark employees) but were not chosen for the 15/16 line of colors.

We have put this year’s Bonus Bindings on our webstore and they are available now. They feature bomber highbacks with a standard forward lean adjuster, a fatty, single Tesla T1 climbing wire (OneWire), Tesla snap ramps, and super solid buckles and straps.

These bad boys/gals will go fast, so if you’re looking to get on a new pair of splitboard bindings this winter; we recommend you act fast!

Here are some examples of the Bonus Bindings below. If you’d like to see all the unique colorways – visit the Bonus Bindings web page.

Blue Green Arc

Blue Green Arc

Gray Green Arc

Gray Green Arc

Gray Magma Arc

Black Magma Arc

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Surge

Gray Surge

Magma Surge 1

Magma Surge

Purple White W Surge

Purple White Surge

 

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Category: Spark in the Field.

Spark R&D Team Rider Ryland Bell checks in from Tahoe

The Return of TahoeThe past couple of seasons in Tahoe have been…rough. Especially in comparison to the first ten years I was here. There were never any questions that this is where I wanted to be, had to be, really.Tahoe had it all, both snow quality and quantity to go along with amazing backcountry access.

Nearly every storm seemed to dump three feet of that precious white gold on the mountains. I watched snowboard heroes and idols ripping next level lines and airs in my backyard; it changed the way I viewed the world.

Tahoe changed my life, molded me into the person, and rider I am today.

Then things changed…powerful snow was replaced by powerful sun, and warmth. Once magnificent snow banks gave way to green grass and rock. I was forced to travel for my powder fix. It was brutal always thinking any day, any day now the snow will return and legendary lines will again be mine to surf. Those perfect powder days with the terrain to back it up will all come back.IMG_3482

That time is now. It is the Return of Tahoe! I have ridden powder every day here for nearly 2 months. The smiles, the stoke, the energy is back! High fives everywhere you look. Many claims of “all time day” have been heard and face shots are no longer a dream of the past. We have been graced with cycling storms and cold temps since November. It’s not often the south facing slopes are holding feet of blower days after a big dump, but this year has produced just that.The mountains are filling in and the features that make Tahoe famous are constantly evolving with this season’s unique snowpack.

I love to watch cliffs disappearing under a heavy blanket of white with spines forming, and pillows mounding high.

IMG_3530My mornings are now spent on the Sierra Avalanche Center site checking the reports and thinking about new zones.The backcountry is riding good with top to bottom consistency! I’m loving those oh-so-steep, quintessential Tahoe faces gleaming in the first light of a crisp morning, and  long open lanes in perfectly spaced pines So many smiling faces; this is a big change from the past couple winters.

This may not be the norm in these changing times, but I’ll take it. I plan on drinking deep of the fruits of Mother Nature while I can and enjoying the Return of Tahoe. Tomorrow is another day, who knows what it will bring, but for now I’m heading out, splitboard in tow, for another round of snow under my board and powder in my face.

-RB

Follow Team Rider Ryland Bell on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with the second half of his winter in Tahoe.

RB  IMG_3571

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Category: Cool Stuff, Inside Spark.

Inside-Spark-EmblemThe onset of a new year is always a fun time. It gives us a chance to reflect on what was, and get excited for what will or could be next year. A lot happens in a year both planned and unplanned. For instance, one year ago, I was in Tahoe trying to smile my way through another tough winter with no idea that a year later I’d be in Bozeman working for Spark R&D. And yes… they can all thank me leaving, obviously causing the copious snowfall this season… While the unplanned changes in a year, good and bad, big and small, are going to happen, what had me interested today were the planned, or you might say, hopeful changes some of the employees here at Spark have for 2016. These changes are often referred to as New Year’s resolutions. Here’s what a couple of the folks around the office, warehouse, and shop had to say.

Matt Mckee, COO

New Year’s Resolution: I resolve to give more high-fives to coworkers as well as Jay and Coops at World Boards. Above all else though, I resolve to kick ass at being a dad and get at least one smile from my daughter every day.

 

Phil Clement, Assembly SupervisorPhil 150x150

New Year’s Resolution: I only began snowboarding about five-years-ago. This year will be the year of the cliff. My New Year’s resolution is to drop my first cliff on a snowboard. What counts as a cliff? I’m saying a drop that’s at least head high!


Jon W 150x150Jon Whittenberg, 
Graphic Designer

New Year’s Resolution: I want to get to more creative projects in my free time. I received a four year drawing book from my wife for Christmas and I plan to work on filling it.

 

Tyler Nyman, Tyler 150x150Customer Service

New Year’s Resolution: I’m calling it the twelver. I want to snowboard all 12 months this year. July and August are tough, but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

 

Steve 150x150

Steve Atencio, Head Pad Printer / Sub-Assembly Supervisor

New Year’s Resolution: Simple. Buy a Ford truck, find a nice lady, and get out backpacking more this summer. I have a cool multi-day section of the Continental Divide picked out right now for a good trek.

 

Adam Wright, Adam 150x150Shipping and Op Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I’m not going to lie, I drink a lot of coffee. While it’s just not realistic to give up coffee completely, my resolution is to go down to one cup o’ joe per day.

 

Ethan Marcoux, Assistant Machining Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I have two rad dogs – Banjo and Fancy. They love exploring with me when I’m out splitboarding and this year I want to bring them out with me in the backcountry more than I ever have.

 

Will Ritter, Will 150x150Owner / Chief Designer

New Year’s Resolution: When you run a business, especially one that you have a ton of fun with, it’s easy to work…a lot. This year I just want to splitboard more. I need more shred time; hopefully some of that new shred time is with my wife!

Ken 150x150

Ken Bartley, Plastics Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I live in Montana and need an adventure-mobile. This year I resolve to buy a 4WD van for fly fishing and splitboarding mountain trips.

 

James 150x150

James Black, Production Manager

New Year’s Resolution: I would like to finalize my truck topper cabin so that I can spend more time traveling to new zones with my snow machine. The end goal would be to explore more mountain ranges in the immediate area, as well as get into British Columbia, specifically the Selkirk Mountains.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and best of luck on your own New Year’s resolutions!

Dan Ventura
Marketing Manager, Spark R&D