Why do you splitboard versus typical snowboarding?
Well, I actually do a fair amount of both—but I prefer to splitboard. Even when I’m at my home resort of Crystal Mountain in Washington, I spend a lot of my time in the sidecountry and backcounty. I love splitboarding for a number of reasons, but primarily for the freedom it affords and the community it provides. In the backcountry, the possibilities are only limited by the snowpack and your group’s skill level. You can truly go wherever you want—no ropes, boundaries, lift lines or crowds! And the community is amazing: skinning up a mountain takes way more time than riding a lift, so you really get quality time to talk with friends.
What got you into splitting?
I’ve always loved to climb mountains. As a kid, I grew up hiking, backpacking, and peak-bagging with my dad in the Sierras in California. And I’ve been snowboarding for about 20 years. About 8 years ago I had this crazy idea that I should combine both my passions and snowboard down the mountains that I climbed. My friends and I made our first splitboards ourselves and the rest is history!
Have you been able to make any first descents? Or are you planning any in the future?
I don’t have any first descents yet, but I have a few in the works for this winter. I can’t provide any details, of course. While no first descents yet, I did make a number of huge descents on the prominent cascade volcanoes this season: Mount Shasta, South Sister, Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens, and the crown jewel of the Cascades, Mount Rainier.
For a lot of riders they don't want to hike to get to spots and would rather ride lifts, what would you say to these people?
I would encourage them to try “earning their turns,” because it provides a sense of freedom: Freedom from paying outrageous resort fees, freedom from fighting hoards of people for that fresh powder, and freedom from being confined to only riding when the ski resorts are open: splitboarding allows me to extend my season indefinitely. As long as there is snow, I can ride. I’ve now been riding for 16 months straight.
Opportunity to shout out/ say thanks:
Thanks to all the companies that have supported my quest for an endless winter, including: Ltd. Optics, SnoCru, The North Face, Rhino Camera Gear, Splitboard.com, and Splitboard Magazine. I’d also like to thank my splitboard partner and wife, Kelly Steele, and the man who captures most of my adventures on film, Jesse Hambley.
Check out more about Jeff and Kelly Steele by reading their article in Splitboard Magazine