[Photos: Guillaume LeGuillou]
Splitboarding has become increasingly popular in recent years. Snowboarders of a certain vintage will no doubt recall Dave Downing’s part in TB9 from the year 2000, which opened most people’s eyes to what such a contraption was, but it nevertheless took a few more years for splitboards to evolve from something usually hacked together in a garage. Today, though, there are a host of brands making splitboards, and companies making split-specific product, along with an increase in performance of the gear with a price that’s – while not cheap – more accessible to the masses than ever before.
One of Europe’s foremost devotees to the art of the split (and more generally freeriding scary big mountains) is Luca Pandolfi. You’ll doubtless remember him from being Jeremy Jones’s riding partner from the Himalaya ender of Higher and, after a chance introduction, we decided it was a good time to shine some light onto both the dude himself and an area of the shred that’s growing in popularity. And often overlooked by media scum like ourselves…
Hey Luca. Can you give us a brief bit of background on yourself and your relationship with snowboarding? I read somewhere you started out as a freestyler?
I tried a snowboard for the first time in 1991 and immediately I had a blast. My parents, as a gift for my 18th birthday, offered me a skiing week in Megeve, France, and at the end of the week I rented a snowboard; I will never forget the feeling of the first turn! The following 2-3 years I rode only on the weekends, learning the basics and carving. Later I moved to a mountain resort, working as seasonal worker and snowboarding everyday. It was at that stage I started freestyle, joining the Sauze d’Oulx “Flying Elks” crew.
Soon my explorative nature pushed me to leave the safety and comfort of the patrolled pistes and structures we were building (there were no snowparks at that time) to search for the unknown magic of the off-piste and backcountry.
Not having a clear idea about my future I decided to spend one winter season in the best 4 European Freeriding Meccas: Verbier, Alagna, Chamonix and La Grave. The moment I arrived in Chamonix my soul became kidnapped by the magnetism of those wild, huge and extreme mountains. In Chamonix I had the possibility of changing my view about snowboarding and big mountain riding; I learned how to climb the big faces and long couloirs I wanted to ride, and I trained for bigger and more ambitious dreams such as riding in the Himalayas and Andes.