Why would you want to earn your turns in the backcountry?

Why do some people want to earn their turns?  What is the draw?  What is the reward?  And why would you go through all of that effort when you can ride a lift and get access to lots of goods?  And why would someone like me, with limited snowboarding ability, be interested in working so hard for lines that I can’t even appreciate?

earn your turns

Backcountry snowboarding is the beginning.  The original snowboards weren’t ridden at resorts by taking a lift up to the top where you would find a nicely groomed trail to ride down.  People were hiking up the hill or mountain with their snowboard (or snurfer) and riding down.  Even if it was done at the resorts, the spirit of earning your turns came about naturally and necessarily.  There are a variety of ways to “get after it” in the backcountry. Splitboarding is our preferred method.  But you can also use approach skis, snowshoes, or just posthole up.  Depending on how crazy you want to get, you might even need climbing equipment and ice axes.

earn your turns

But in this day and age, where there are only a couple of holdouts on the” no snowboards rule” we don’t need to trek up the mountain under our own steam, so why do it?  We all have our reasons, but here are some of the more common ones.


Most outdoor enthusiasts appreciate just being out in nature.  The smells, sights, sounds.  The air always seems cleaner and crisper in the mountains.  For some of us this is enough.


Freedom…your track, your lines, your timeframe, it’s all up to you.


Others want to get away from the crowds and lift lines of the resort, being able to go whenever you want, wherever you want.


Resorts are expensive.  Lift tickets are not getting any cheaper and $3 for a bottle of water adds up pretty fast.


Some people are in constant search of that perfect line, and just the untouched nature of things is appealing to most people.  The promise of snowboarding in powder can be irresistible.


It is a challenge.  You have to be invested in, and excited by, the journey.  It is much more about the trip to get there than it is about the ride down.  It’s a lot of work.  But for many of us, it’s worth it just to make it to the top (or wherever we stop).  For me this is a big one…the challenge of going places I never thought I would and seeing things from a perspective that most people don’t ever experience.

earn your turns

Climbing mountains, especially with a fair amount of gear, isn’t easy.  You need strong lungs and legs.  It is certainly not for everyone.  And a lot of people think it’s crazy to go through all of the work when you can just have a lift take you to the top.   It’s not plush.  There are no lodges with heat, plumbing, snacks, or restrooms.  And you might only get a couple of runs in instead of 20+ you can get riding at the resort.  Both can be great, but they are very different.

earn your turns

There is a connection you feel with the outdoors when you head out in the backcountry.  You are on your own, relying on your own skills, smarts, and luck.  And hopefully you are with people who are responsible and trustworthy.  You need to respect the mountains and understand your surroundings and the potential dangers.  If you are in avalanche territory, you need to have the appropriate gear and training to go safely.  There is no ski patrol to escort you down the mountain if you get hurt.  You need to plan, be cautious, and be responsible with your fun.

earn your turns

But it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.  You have to love the way up as much (if not more) than you love the way down.  And if you get this, you’re already more than halfway there.



Tags: splitboarding women, snowboarding in powder, ri splitboard, the rise of splitboarding,splitboarding adventures, splitboarding woman, splitboarding in ri, backcountry snowboarding,earn your turns, hike my line

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