How It's Made: Karakoram Bindings

Our friends (yours and mine, splitboarding community) up the road at Karakoram have posted a great story about how they make their bindings and where they come from--down the the custom hardware and pins. Spoiler alert! It is all within a very small area around their factory in North Bend, Washington.

I am proud to be riding their bindings and supporting their program, which includes: world-class design, constant innovation, local manufacturing, and hiring actual splitboarders to work in their factory. Be sure to check out the post.

As we get closer to the start of next season, I am going to do a gear review series to help you get dialed in for '13-'14. There will definitely be a piece on my Split30's, so watch for that sometime around October.

If you missed it above, the story can be seen HERE.


Stanley Mitchell Hut - 3.31.13 - 4.5.13

Stanley Mitchell Hut, Little Yoho Valley. The Vice President, President, and Kerr, mountains.
Looking out our front door - choose your own adventure. Left to right - The Vice President, President, and Mt. Kerr. Little Yoho Valley, BC.
This trip turned out to be one of the best of my life! We had good to great snow the whole time--especially great considering that it hadn't snowed in a while--good stability, and, for most of our stay, the entire place to ourselves. Growing up in the Cascades, the Canadian Rockies were a huge change for me, and it was amazing to see snow-covered peaks all the way to the horizon in every direction. I have never seen anything like it. The price for that terrain and solitude was a 14 mile approach and exit, which was a slog to say the least, but it was well worth it.



Hut Trip! Post your best recipes - 3.27.13

Sunday marks my 27th birthday, as well as a 14.3 mile skin into a hut in the Canadian Rockies! Couldn't be more stoked. I have never done a hut trip before, and so I've never had the luxury of a backcountry kitchen, and I usually just do my meal planning for myself. This trip, we've got 5 people and we are sharing the cooking, at least for dinner. Have any favorite hut meals? Help me out and post them here, otherwise, it's 4 days of this:


New Snow - 3.17.13

Ski Patroller C.S. Stands on top of a chute in the Mt. Hood backcountry
Mr. C.S. - 8" of fresh snow was a nice surprise
I scheduled a backcountry patrol day for the 17th, months ago. Things have been a bit dry around here the past few weeks but we finally had some new snow dropping, however, it was accompanied by 70mph winds up at Timberline, and the accumulation didn't look too spectacular. Two friends and I decided to stretch our legs anyways, and figured that exercise is all we were in for, as conditions were probably wind-scoured with a little bit of dust on crust. To our pleasant surprise, there was 8"+ of some of the driest snow that I have seen on this part of the mountain. Stability was about as good as it gets, and I was finally able to bag some lines that I have been checking out all season.





Oregon Splitfest - 3.9.13

The group takes a break for skinning, and enjoys the sunshine.
Perfect weather!
The second annual Oregon Splitfest is in the books. We had sunny weather (on Saturday), stable snow, and lots of great people, parties, and prizes. Much thanks to Jones Snowboards, Karakoram BindingsArbor Snowboards, US Outdoor Store, and Next Adventure for coming out, demoing gear, and giving away product in the raffle. Of course, a big shout out to Geoff Guillory for putting the whole thing together, and NWAC for presenting. You really should have been there! Don't miss it next year. That's all I've got; just eye candy from here on out.



Oregon Splitfest!

This weekend is the second annual Oregon Splitfest. Things kick of at Charlie's at 6pm this Friday, and then it's a long weekend of touring, shooting photos, and raffling off gear! I didn't make it last year, but this one definitely is not to be missed. Hope to see you up there!

Click HERE for the event page.


Window Shopping - 2.9.13

A big couloir socked in with fog.
Patiently waiting for this one.
It's been a great week to get out and stretch the legs, but good riding has been very elusive. The strong crust layer from our last warm spell is only covered by a dusting of new snow, and in many places, the old crust formed runnels, got tracked out, and then refroze. So the mission has been to find the spots with the smoothest crust underneath and ride them. On a positive note, we have bomber stability.

A friend and I planned to go up and do a little tour today under sunny skies, but that weather window has yet to materialize. While we did get a few turns, none were worth mentioning, and we spent the better part of the day gathering beta for better snow conditions, practicing low-visibility navigating, and building character with some challenging side hilling. Some days, the mountain is better looked at than touched.



Keep Mt. Hood Weird - Tele Tuesday Rando Race - Deeluxe Spark XV - 2.5.13

Standing on top of Mt. Hood Ski Bowl in Deeluxe Spark VX boots
Pure pow!!! First 1", then rocks and ice.
The results of tonight's Tele Tuesday Rando Race at Ski Bowl were...weird. I showed up for the race and was told that they weren't doing the usual uphill-downhill race, but had changed it to a judged telemark expression session, and that you could only compete if you had retro gear and straight skis. Bonus points for leather boots. No joke. I couldn't make this up.

So I saved myself a few dollars and went snowboarding instead. Earlier in the day, UPS had brought me some new Xavier De Le Rue pro model boots. I have been waiting for these boots for a long time, and was excited to give them a try.





Vertfest - Mt. Bachelor - 1.19.13

Marathon start (photo:
Last Saturday, I did my first Snowboard Mountaineering race. There was little to no mountaineering, but there certainly was a lot of skinning, transitioning, and some good bootpacking. As my loyal reader(s) knows, less than a month has passed since I got my first splitboard--a Jones Carbon Solution 161--so I had a hard time deciding what category to do. There was a dedicated splitboarding division with a recreational category that did a single run up Mt. Bachelor's cinder cone, a moderate class that had about 2000 vertical feet of climbing, and then the advanced class with over 4000 vertical and 5 transitions--not including the bootpack up the cone.



First post: up to the Hogsback - 12.30.12

I am finally kicking off this blog, and reliving some of the good times I have had these past few weeks since setting up my first split.
Hogsback - wishing I packed sunglasses
But first, let me introduce myself: my name is Har Rai (whole first name; hippy parents) and I was born and raised in Portland, OR, where I learned to ski and snowboard on the slopes of Mt. Hood. I started skiing at age 4 at Mt. Hood Meadows. I also spent a lot of time skateboarding and windsurfing, and by the time I was 10, I didn't want to do anything other than boardsports and so I upgraded (yes, that's right) to a snowboard. I have had a resort pass most years since, and for the last 16 years, I have spent as much time as possible up on Hood--freeriding at Meadows, snowshoeing and camping with family and friends in the backcountry, competing in OISA and USASA events in highschool, coaching Grant high school's snowboard team while in college, and now working (for free) as a ski patroller. I relearned how to ski these past couple of years, and occasionally you will find me ski patrolling, but you are much more likely to see me on a snowboard. When it comes to working as a backcountry patroller,  I now exclusively splitboard. Yes, a nordic snowboarder--the rarest breed.

I spent a lot of my childhood hiking, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing on Mt. Hood, but I never really had the equipment to make backcountry the primary focus. Last year was my first year as a ski patroller, and in the process, I got certifications in Mountain Travel and Rescue, Level 1 Avalanche, Outdoor Emergency Care, and more importantly, I met a bunch of touring and climbing partners. Joining the Nordic Patrol gave me a great excuse to spend way too much money on everything I needed to splitboard, and quitting my position as a Snowboard coach--and thus losing my season pass benefits--committed me to the backcountry program and earning my turns if I wanted to ride.

I am creating this blog to document and share my adventures splitboarding in Oregon and beyond, and also to help others by sharing what I have learned throughout the process. Splitboarding is blowing up, but it is still a small niche of the snowboard market, and information can be hard to come by. I might be new to this specific aspect of snowboarding, but I have a lot of experience riding solid boards, and testing and selling gear--I worked in a surf/windsurf/snowboard shop for 8 years, and tested windsurfing gear professionally for 2--and I have been able to apply that to finding the best splitboarding gear that is out there and figuring out tricks and solutions to making it work as well as it can in a whole system. I will cover all of that here, to save you the time that it took me to find answers and solutions while getting everything set up.