Words: Shelma Jun
As I sat at my dining room table one week ago, repeatedly watching a YouTube video on how to cut skins for my splitboard, I started to wonder if this was a good idea. “This” being my decision to get back into splitboarding after thirteen years. While climbing has been my all-consuming passion in recent years, it is snowboarding that cemented my love for the mountains almost two decades ago. Now here I was, hoping to get back into a sport that had kept evolving and growing since I had been gone. So, yeah, I was nervous. Nervous about being the slowest one, about getting my butt kicked and wondering if it would be as magical as I remembered.
But after spending the last four days at the Arc’teryx Backcountry Academy in Jackson Hole, WY, the nervousness is gone and the fire has been re-stoked. Let’s be clear, I was slowest one -sometimes by a lot – in my group both days we went out and I did get my butt kicked. Walking down stairs is quite challenging right now. But no one cared how slow I was or how clumsily I switched from skinning to riding. In fact, everyone was just so excited that I had decided to get back into snowboarding. In the end, what everyone really wanted to know was if I had a good time, if riding the meter of fresh snow made me as giddy as it made them. And it did. I had a giant grin on my face the whole way down.
The Backcountry Academy was the perfect way for me to ease back into this sport and community. The clinics boosted my confidence to know I am capable of getting back onto the snow. The Exum Guides for my Intro to Splitboarding Clinic and our backcountry tour in Teton National Park were knowledgeable, friendly and quick to adjust plans when any of our legs decided to call it quits. The evening events of presentations, films, photo showdown and live music created the perfect atmosphere to meet and connect with likeminded folks from all over the world. I already have future plans with new friends in the next couple months.
In the end, what I found was that amazing ski/snowboarding community that I had been a part of not only continues to exist, but is growing and thriving more than ever. And that it’s still extremely satisfying to take a snack break at the top of a mountain before dropping in, that it’s still thrilling to ride fast in powder through trees, and that the après beers still taste just as delicious after a day in the mountains.
See more photos from this year’s Arc’teryx Backcountry Academy HERE.