Girls -Theresa Clinton-

Tree originally hails from Kenora, Ontario but the craving for big mountains brought her to the West Coast where she made Whistler her home in 1998. There she worked as a snowboard instructor and coach for 6 years and a snowboard/ski rep for 9 years with Prior. Her love of the backcountry and exploration led her to become a backcountry guide and for the past 3 years, Tree has been working/playing/guiding in Japan, New Zealand and Chile. When she’s not shredding the mountains, she’s playing hockey, mountain biking or planning her next trip…

As someone who’s been snowboarding for 20 years, it’s been an interesting journey, as the sport itself and my connection with it have evolved. In the early days it was all about learning tricks and shredding the resorts, but as I progressed and became more addicted to fresh pow lines and less addicted to crowds, I was constantly searching for ways to get my fix of big mountain turns with less people.

This lead to the purchase of a snowmobile – an amazing tool for accessing more terrain to snowboard

(yes, I still brought my snowboard with me on every sledding trip!). Mountain sledding/shredding is a sport in itself and it truly opened my eyes to the vastness of the mountain ranges in BC, and it caused me to read the terrain in an entirely different way. However, after many expensive repairs, gas bills and physio appointments to fix my back after digging my sled out of various ‘situations’, I was looking for something a bit less costly, not only on my bank account, but also on my body.

“In the early days it was all about learning tricks and shredding the resorts, but as I progressed and became more addicted to fresh pow lines and less addicted to crowds”

Fortunately for me, I happened to be working at Prior Snowboards at the time (Whistler based manufacturer of boards, splitboards and skis), so was already well educated about splitboards and had used them from time to time, but hadn’t really delved into the sport. With the snowmobile sold and the powder still calling, it was time to fully embrace backcountry touring.

Granted, the act of self-propulsion up the mountain was a bit gruelling and tedious at the beginning, but it’s the same when you take up any new sport. Starting to splitboard was like joining the ‘mountain gym’. Once you’ve got the gear -that’s like your gym membership paid for – it’s up to you to get out there and sweat.

However, once you get the rhythm of skinning up at a pace that works for you (steady as she goes!) and have your own ‘system’ for the switchover from board to skis and vice versa, there’s a certain fluidity to it all and you can begin to focus on the mountains and the reasons you’re there in the first place.

Every ski tourer and splitboarder has their own motives for doing what they do. Perhaps it’s to get away from people, to bag that special peak, to push personal limits or just to enjoy the great outdoors. For me personally, splitboarding nourishes the body, the mind and the spirit.

Spot: Revelstocke backcountry, Canada Pic by Patrick Donker
Spot: Niseko-Japan / Pic by Tele Ace
Spot: Nevados de Chillan Chile / Pic by David-Gomez Johnson

“Every ski tourer and splitboarder has their own motives for doing what they do. Perhaps it’s to get away from people, to bag that special peak, to push personal limits or just to enjoy the great outdoors.”

Physically, I love sport and exercise, but am not a big fan of working out at gyms, so getting an incredible workout for muscles, heart and lungs, combined with the release of endorphins and adrenalin that comes from climbing a slope and riding down it is a win-win for me.

Mentally, backcountry touring challenges you to research, plan, select routes, assess avalanche risk and to have the willpower and mental endurance to persevere on a long or challenging tour.

Spiritually, the simple act of being out in the grandeur

of the mountains makes you feel alive, humbled and inspired all at the same time. There’s the sense of accomplishment and pride when you set a goal and achieve it, like getting to the summit and taking a moment to pat yourself on the back or maybe high-five your touring buddy. Then there’s the pure unbridled joy of ripping down a beautiful blank canvas of powdery snow where you can create your own unique piece of art with your tracks.

Whatever your reasons and whatever your snowboarding background, get out there, get up there, get down and then go do it all over again…

Theresa Clinton, Whistler, BC, Canada. Prior Snowboard Team / Ambassador
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