You can get asked lot of interesting questions when you’re out with a group on one of our splitboard courses. This is a good thing as it shows that people are keen to learn. Be that about the mountains, conditions and safety or technique when splitboarding. However, there are a few that we hear quite regularly and thought them worth a share. So here are a couple of them along with our answers.
Q. “What is spring snow. Is it snow that only falls in March & April?”
A. No. Spring snow is not snow that falls in the spring.
Spring snow or corn snow is large loose granules, these have frozen together overnight and then thawed during the day. They’ll be cold enough in the morning to have adhesion and you’d get resistance from a pole plant – i.e frozen. This is a developmental phase and as adhesion fails there’s a transition to loose granular snow as the freeze thaw cycle becomes established. If you know which aspects to ride at what time in the day you will be rewarded with a predictable smooth surface which is a helluva lot of fun to snowboard on. That is spring snow. March & April are two of the best times to splitboard in. The snow coverage is generally good enough by then to open up lines that are sometimes best avoided in the earlier winter months.
Q. “Will we need to build a fire at the refuge?”
A. No. Not every refuge is a stone hut
Believe it or not most mountain refuges these days are a far cry from the shack to which you need to carry your sleeping bag and food up to. More akin to mountain hotels these ‘refuges’ often have a ‘guardian’ on hand to serve you cold beer, show you where your dorm and comfortable bed is and then cook you a mean fondue in the evening. In Italy there are a few refuges that actually serve you a Campari when you arrive. Of course there are still stone huts dotted around which are a lot of fun to stay in although half board and hot showers aren’t an option. However, lugging a load of stuff up the mountain to make your night vaguely civilised is mandatory. On our Trip’n’Split weeks we tend to use refuges with all mod cons! However, on our couloir clinic we will probably spend the night in the aforementioned stone hut. It’s an incredible experience to wake up, set up and then split up in the wild of the mountains.
If you want to experience either riding quality spring snow or a night in a refuge then check out the new course dates for 2016. Places are limited (and already selling quickly) so get in touch!