This season, try your hand at a winter sport that combines the aerobic challenge of cross-country skiing with the powder-fueled rush of backcountry snowboarding: splitboarding. The sport was invented in the early 1990s by a Utah skier and avalanche forecaster, Brett Kobernik, who wanted to climb mountains on skis and descend on a snowboard. Tinkering with a pair of skis and some spare parts, he built a system that allowed him to clamp two skis together into a board. A quarter century later, splitboards have become widely available from a variety of manufacturers, opening the backcountry to snowboarders eager to seek out fresh powder. Here are three spots in the Northeast to give splitboarding a try, each highlighted in greater detail in David Goodman’s definitive title from AMC Books, Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast.
Cadillac Mountain | Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia’s tallest mountain offers winter-sports opportunities via the Auto Road, which is unplowed in winter (also used by snowmobilers; take care). Ascend via the Auto Road or North Ridge Trail, enjoy the ocean views from the summit, snap your skis together, and begin the 3.5-mile descent on the road. For an off-piste option, try the skiable snowfields just west of the Auto Road.
DISTANCE: 7 miles round trip
INFO: Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast (AMC Books); Acadia National Park
Mount Chocorua | Albany, N.H.
The distinctive rocky peak of Mount Chocorua, situated on the southern edge of the White Mountains, offers some of the most spectacular views in New Hampshire. The best skiing on the mountain is on the lower section of Champney Falls Trail, so begin your climb from the parking area on the Kancamagus Highway. Following the yellow blazes up Champney Falls Trail and take a detour left off the main trail to see Pitcher Falls and Champney Falls. You can descend from here or keep climbing to the summit for breathtaking views of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. A descent of the trail’s upper section, with its series of switchbacks, should only be attempted by experienced skiers and snowboarders.
DISTANCE: 3 miles round trip (to Champney Falls); 7.6 miles round trip (to the summit)
INFO: Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide, 29th ed. (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide Online
Johns Brook Valley | Adirondack Park, N.Y.
The Adirondack Mountains offer a vast array of backcountry skiing options, including the spectacular Johns Brook Valley, which lies right at the heart of the park. Ski in to Camp Peggy O’Brien for an overnight excursion (reservations required) and use it as your base for further exploration of the valley. Experienced skiers will want to check out nearby Gothics Slides and Ore Bed Brook, which feature several thrilling descents, as well as Bennies Brook Slide. All skiers exploring the slides in the Adirondacks should have some basic avalanche training; see AMC’s activities database for upcoming classes.
DISTANCE: 7 miles round trip to Camp Peggy O’Brien; 3 to 7 miles round trip to surrounding slides
INFO: Best Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast (AMC Books); Adirondack Mountain Club