Blog Category: ’Cool Stuff’

Winter Returns to the East Coast

DTK Episode 3.2

From the guys at Rightside Productions: This rewinds back to a few of our mid-winter 2013 splitboarding missions. With a solid snowpack in place, we dug deeper into spots that had previously left us broken and battered. From posting up in a remote cabin to pre and post workday missions, we’ve been burning the headlamps at both ends to take full advantage of the best conditions the east coast has seen all winter. Boot up checkyourpins.com for photos and more, and stay tuned for the Chic Chocs in episode three.

Rightside Productions presents an East Coast Split Web Series

Episode 3.1: Into the Forest

Winter is short enough on the East Coast. Add multiple thaws, every form of frozen precip, and shrapnel-filled forests and it’s enough to make us wonder why we even bother. Episode 3.1 documents the first half of the season splitboarding in Vermont—a season that’s been full of highs and lows, but then again any day on snow is a good one.

www.checkyourpins.com

Spark Rider Marcin Jaskolka, Karkonosze in Poland

“CHIEFTAIN’S GOOD BUT HE’S A ROBBER”

Sticking your head out of the tent in the morning gives you a feeling something bad is approaching you at a speed of light. In a moment you realize it happens to be only a fog, so you immediately fasten your board.
The next beautiful day in mountains is about to happen.
Splitboarding, camping and a good mood!
Karkonosze are awesome, it is hard to find cliff drops here, but you will get a blend of deep powder turns, tree runs and a huge smile on your face after all day run.

Greetings from Japan
Marcin Jaskolka

Think Between the Lines

Michaela Precourt last year raised enough money to buy a fleet of splitboards for her College. She then used them for the backcountry snowboarding program she created for a company in Alaska called Wild Alpine.  For the past two years, Michaela has been building curriculum, guiding, marketing, and basically doing whatever she could to get this program off the ground, while still attending college full time! Her hard worked paid off.  Both Wild Alpine and Prescott College have splitboard programs .  This fall she is making a splitboard documentary about her project and the splitboarding community. The documentary is called “THINK BETWEEN the LINES” and it is premiering at the 2nd Annual Snow Film Fundraiser,  November 17, 2011 at Prescott College. Spark R&D has helped with this project from the beginning and will be doing so again this year. We are stoked for Michaela and everyone that is able to benefit from the programs she has created.

THINK BETWEEN the LINES from Michaela Precourt on Vimeo.

a SPLITBOARD DOCUMENTARY about my senior project and the splitboard community.

Splitboard Education Company

Here at Spark, when we aren’t making kick ass splitboard bindings, we are very fortunate to work with and support a number of great organizations. Recently I had the opportunity to correspond with someone over at the Splitboard Education Company. This crew is doing their part to push our sport and educate splitboarders. Good on them! Spark is proud to support these guys and we expect great things in the future.

Read some info about SEC here:

Background Information:  I came to Utah in 1999, and rode at Snowbird for a few years.  In 2002, I took an avalanche class, and Brett Kobernik, aka Cowboy, was one of my instructors.  I was the only snowboarder in the class, and Cowboy offered a splitboard for me to use.  I bought a used Voile Split Decision after the class, and the rest is history.  I eventually moved into the backcountry full-time, and started guiding and teaching about splitboards in winter 2005/2006.

SEC Headquarters

SEC Headquarters

Present Situation:  Since then, I have been fortunate enough to work in several different capacities in outdoor education.  During the winter, I do whatever I can to be on my splitboard, which has included the following jobs and experiences:

  • Guide/avalanche instructor for Utah Mountain Adentures
    • Daily and overnight trips teaching about splitboards and avalanches
  • Course leader for the National Outdoor Leadership School
    • Expedition-style splitboard courses up to 10 days in length, teaching about splitboards and avalanches
  • Professional observer for the Utah Avalanche Center
    • Daily snow and avalanche observations on a splitboard
  • Various other instruction for Westminster College, the University of Utah, and Realms of Inquiry Charter School.

Reason for the Splitboard Education Company:  Throughout my different experiences working in various winter programs, I always found that, although there was some splitboarding offered, all these programs were run and operated by skiers.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it seemed to limit what I could do, teach, and advocate for on my splitboard.  Plus, I had generated all sorts of good contacts within the industry.  I kept thinking that there needs to be some sort of splitboard-specific education out there.  Finally, I started thinking that I should be the one to do it.  After having the idea for a couple years, I told my friend Ethan about it, sort of in a way to commit myself to going through with starting the company.  I put some money into a website, and got things rolling.

SEC Drinks Coffee. Spark loves coffee!

SEC Drinks Coffee. Spark loves coffee!

Current Status of SEC:  I began operating in September 2010, and had a relatively successful winter.  For one thing, I think that the simple existence of SEC supports and complements everything else that I’m already doing with splitboards.  As an example, I can use the curriculum that I’ve created for the company when I go to work a course for NOLS.  Outside of this, I have also been able to attract my own clients, apart from my other jobs.  I’m looking forward to another good winter, and continue to work to refine my website and business model.

Some simple ‘nuts and bolts’ about the company.

Introduction:  The Splitboard Education Company (SEC) is an organization designed to provide education and instruction about splitboards, following a curriculum model outlined in a previous paper (written for graduate admission to the University of Utah Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department).  Background information about splitboarding and an argument for splitboard education was included in this article, where I also proposed the creation of SEC.

SEC Posse

SEC Posse

 Mission:  To be the leading source of splitboard education by providing complete and comprehensive splitboard curriculum.

Vision:  Accomplish stated mission by doing the following:

  • Stay abreast of developments within splitboarding and avalanche education through contact with Backcountry Magazine, splitboarding.com, the Avalanche Review, etc.
  • Work with these and others in the industry to continue the evolution of splitboarding
  • Draw on experience working for NOLS and UMA to provide a high quality educational experience
  • Utilize available resources in and near Salt Lake City (Voile/Black Diamond/local splitboarders)
  • Continue to educate myself through lots of splitboarding!

Target Client:  Intermediate through expert snowboarders who are interested in getting out in the backcountry and checking out splitboards.

Operating space:  My wife and I recently remodeled our garage, which we rebuilt and insulated into a space that is used as the office and shop for SEC.

 Curriculum:  SEC will follow my proposed curriculum model of splitboard education, split into ‘Classroom Workshops’ and ‘Field Clinics’.  The workshops and clinics thoroughly cover this three-part model, with individual classes targeted towards specific topics.  Classroom time will be an interactive mix of education and instruction regarding the parts, functions, and setup of splitboards and other associated equipment.   Time in the field will focus on the use and practice of different splitboard techniques.  Other educational topics from the curriculum model (for both the classroom and the field) including an introduction to backcountry touring, as well as avalanche hazard evaluation, which includes the potential to earn an Avalanche Awareness certificate.

The fun part

The fun part

Location of services:  SEC will offer services in the ‘classroom’ and in the ‘field’.  The classroom space will vary.  It could be the SEC shop, or the curriculum can be delivered in a gym, a garage, or any other open space where clients/students would have enough room to spread out and work with splitboards.  The field sessions will take place primarily in the Wasatch Mountains (under the UMA special use permit).

Design Contest Winner

Congrats to Nicholas Lamper for winning the Spark R&D design contest. His design, Misty Mountain, was chosen by the Spark R&D crew as the overall favorite.

A big thank you to everyone who submitted art to us. The response was amazing and we enjoyed looking at all the designs. Stay tuned in the future for similar opportunities.

All Spark R&D gear, and apparel, will be available at your favorite shred shop very soon.

Cave Camping in Antarctica

Our buddy Tommy dropped us another note after his latest adventure down in Antarctica. Read below:

Hi Spark,

Still in the thick of winter here. I’ve been planning a mountain
ascent next week on a peak that’s out of our travel exclusion zone.
It’s quite a big one and will really test the splitty out. It’s a 5
day trip and I’ve been training quite hard for it, as it’s going to be a
grawler. I went on a camping trip this weekend to a cave on the other
side of the peninsula. I took the board to see how I would cope with a
winter pack with all my rations, fuel, tent, bags survival equipment
and so on. To my delight I found that I was able to get down the hill
with it all on. I’m definitely getting the hang of boarding fully
laden. These packs come in at around 30kgs, so turning is a little
complex. You really have to commit but once on either edge your plain
sailing.


On the way we passed a really nicely presented snowdrift loaded face,
so I couldn’t resist ditching the bag, and
riding a few lines.

Weather was really good, but after spending the night in the cave we
woke up to a storm and a white out. So it was a bitch getting home.
Took some slogging and had to resort to snowshoeing as we couldn’t see
well enough to ride-shame.


But all in all a good weekend away and I’m ready for “black peak” next week

Tommy

 

Thanks for the update Tommy. The snow looks pretty good down there. Enjoy it!

 

Spark R&D T-Shirt Design Contest

Greetings and happy summer to all of our Spark fans. Each day brings us closer and closer to the launch of our 2011-2012 product line and we are getting excited. We promise to have a number of changes to our existing products, as well as a few new items to keep you stoked in the backcountry this coming season.

Continuing on with the new, it is time once again for us to order our new selection of softgoodies for the year. This means flipping through pages and pages of catalogs, arguing about colors, and of course coming up with graphics. So this year we wanted to do something a little different. We are opening up the design input to everyone. We are giving you a chance to design the graphics for this year’s shirts and hoodies. If you happen to come up with something brilliant, we will even throw you a new pair of 2011/12 bindings for your trouble.

Why are we doing this??? That is a pretty good question. Some might say that we are lazy. Others think that we are too busy enjoying the snow left in the high country. But honestly, we are just too busy making the best damn splitboard bindings EVER! So who better to get involved than the Spark R&D faithful? If you think you have something for us, read the rules below.

- Design a shirt that contains the Spark R&D logo   (downloadable here) (download shirt template)
- Do not change or alter our logo in any fashion!!!
- Keep it to two colors maximum
- Submit your entries by August 25th.
- Send your entries in jpeg format along with your full mailing address, phone number and email in case you’re a winner. Submit entries to jeff@sparkrandd.com

Once we choose the winner, we will make you famous by shipping your shirt design all over the planet. This will be our ONLY shirt graphic for the 2011/12 season. We will hook the winning designer up with his or her own shirts and hoodies, as well as a custom pair of either Burner of Blaze bindings.

The Winner will be announced September 1st.

Good luck to everyone and start designing.

Malay Day and Methods

A few weeks ago I read the post from Transworld Snow about Malay Day down in Beaver Creek, CO. Cruising through the photo gallery I noticed an image of Travis Young, winner of the Biggest Method category, riding a split with some Spark R&D Blaze bindings.

Travis Young, doin' work in the park on his Blaze bindings

Travis Young, doin' work in the park on his Blaze bindings

I was able to track down Travis and congratulate him on his riding, and share my appreciation for him giving Spark some representation in the park. Here is what Travis had to say when I asked him about the event:

The event is called the Malay day. Josh Malay was a up & coming pro from this area that was injured & killed back in 2002. He was a friend of mine & a lot of people from this area had huge respect for him. There is all kinds of info on him in Transworld snowboard mag. http://snowboarding.transworld.net/1000151832/featuresobf/malay-day/?comment=true&pid=42640#ngtop

Anyways it is a big contest that we have had every year since his death to honor him & just celebrate the snowboard scene around these parts.

I decided to enter the contest & ride my split just because i love split boarding and wanted to show all the bros how far splitting has come. As well as how good the sparks R&D bindings are! I am an old semi pro from this area & know a lot of people involved with big mountain riding around the world. I ended up winning the biggest Method contest that day and second in overall destroyer award. Gags from Never summer hooked me up with a new board that i am pumped on. I actually haven’t ridden the board yet because all i ever do is skin up into the Gore Range with my buddies & ride POW, ha. This area has had the best winter in a long time & the snowpack is epic right now. It is dumping good cold snow as i write this. It has been amazing.

With out the Sparks R&D bindings i was not totally convinced on split boarding, & was actually using a pair of collapsible approach skis that i was trying to invent for the last few years. Good thing you guys revolutionized the sport, now i don’t have to carry the board on my back up the hill & don’t have any extra weight on my way down. I can honestly say that with your bindings and my new Lib Tech T.rice split, i have full confidence in any condition!

Over here at Spark we love shred events for the cause, splitboard or no. I too was fortunate enough to have ridden with Josh and know he would’ve been stoked for Travis, holding it down on a splitboard. A tip of the hat goes out to Travis Young for the riding, as well as a little box of goodies from Spark R&D.

Also, a big thank you to Matt Alberts for the photo. Keep em coming Matt!
www.mattalbertsphoto.com

Congrats to Nick Fouts TWS Deeper Package Winner!

We would like to take a moment to congratulate Nick Fouts on winning the Transworld Snowboarding Jeremy Jones Deeper Giveaway. For his efforts, Nick was rewarded with an outerwear and board setup, the same as Jeremy Jones rides, complete with a shiny new pair of Spark Blaze bindings.

Good on ya Nick! We know those new Spark bindings will see a lot of miles in the backcountry.