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  • Splitboards make it easier to access the backcountry

    Trip to Todd Ridge shows efficiency of splitboards
  • TODD LAKE — We finally crested the ridge, and it was time to remove the skins and put our snowboards together.
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    • Backcountry gear
      Transceivers, probes and shovels: Transceivers work in case of an avalanche only if both the person who is buried under the snow and those trying to find the victim have them. The devices' signals ...
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      Backcountry gear
      Transceivers, probes and shovels: Transceivers work in case of an avalanche only if both the person who is buried under the snow and those trying to find the victim have them. The devices' signals become stronger as rescuers get closer to the victim. Probes are long sticks, broken down like tent poles, that are used to search the snow for an avalanche victim. A compact shovel can be used to dig the person out.

      Climbing skins: Nylon material that sticks to the bottom of skis to provide traction on the way up the slope.

      Splitboard: This snowboard splits in two, allowing the boarder to apply skins for touring and then adjust the two sides into one board for riding. The cost of a splitboard averages about $1,000.
  • TODD LAKE — We finally crested the ridge, and it was time to remove the skins and put our snowboards together.
    "Rip hide!" Carlos Cummings yelled, as the wind howled and the heavy snowfall swirled around us.
    I gave him a confused look, and he explained that climbing skins, applied to skis and splitboards for traction to climb a slope, were in the past made from animal hides. Nowadays, they are mostly nylon.
    Anyway, we ripped our new-school hides and began the process of putting our splitboards together for the powder-filled ride down.
    A strong storm had moved in as we skinned up the horseshoe ridge around the west and north flanks of Todd Lake, an area known as Todd Ridge. The ridge is a remote location that requires a significant step up in commitment and skill level from more accessible Central Oregon backcountry destinations such as Vista Butte and Tumalo Mountain.
    Last week, Cummings, a guide for Bend's Oregon Ski Guides and owner of a small business called Center Punch Splitboards, was helping me accomplish two things that had long been on my must-do list: snowboard Todd Ridge and try a splitboard.
    Splitboards are snowboards that split into two, allowing the boarder to apply skins for touring and then adjust the two sides into a single board for riding. I was tired of trudging along in snowshoes and carrying my board on my back during backcountry outings — splitboarding seemed to be a more efficient alternative.
    The day started at Dutchman Flat Sno-park, across Century Drive from Mt. Bachelor ski area. Cummings picked me up on a snowmobile and we settled in for the three-mile ride down Cascade Lakes Highway to Todd Lake.
    A snowmobile is not required to access Todd Ridge, but it certainly is helpful. The distance from the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center (the typical starting point for those not snowmobiling) to Todd Lake is about two miles. The lake can be accessed via Cascade Lakes Highway (on a snowmobile or skis) or via back-country ski trails from the common corridor that starts at the nordic center.
    A well-used skin track starts from the Todd Lake trailhead (elevation 6,150 feet) and continues around the west side of Todd Lake.
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