Splitboarding on Groomers: Can You Use a Splitboard at a Ski Resort?

Splitboards were invented for snowboarders to escape the bustling crowds of ski resorts and explore untouched backcountry terrain. For many, splitboarding is purely a substitute for snowboarding and strictly meant for terrain that is inaccessible to a traditional snowboard.

However, some wonder if it ever makes sense to use a splitboard on groomed trails, or “groomers”, at a winter resort or local ski mountain.

Riding a snowboard is almost universally preferred over riding a splitboard at a resort. However, almost no ski resort will prohibit guests from riding a splitboard as long as they respect and follow resort rules.

Excessive riding on groomers may cause damage or unnecessary wear and tear on an expensive piece of equipment. If you’re not deterred, read on for some common situations and advice for riding a splitboard at a resort.

Reasons why you might ride a splitboard on groomers or at a ski resort

Below are some scenarios where it might make sense to bring along your splitboard.

Splitboard on groomed ski trail at a ski resort

Taking an early morning lap

If you are coming from a snowboarding background and still have a snowboard setup, you could bring both your snowboard and splitboard to the resort.

One advantage of a splitboard is that you can start hiking up before the lifts officially open. There is usually a brief window of 30-60 minutes when the resort allows guests before the chairlift starts running.

You could hike up using your splitboard for a lap or two and enjoy untracked powder before the crowds start arriving. Then, switch over to your main snowboard to ride the rest of the day.

Testing out new gear

Perhaps you live in close proximity to a local mountain or your buddies are planning the next snowboarding weekend at a ski resort.

If you just purchased a new splitboard, binding, or climbing skins, it is a good idea to test how the new gear works prior to venturing out. “Preparation is the key to success” as the saying goes, and the same sentiment applies here.

It is easier to make adjustments while in the proximity of indoor heated lodges. It’s also reassuring to know that emergency ski patrollers could provide assistance in case of new equipment failure.

Taking in laps when there is no natural snow

As soon as temperatures start dropping to the freezing point, most winter sports enthusiasts get an itch to practice their hobby. That desire tends to last throughout the entire winter season.

Therefore, it can be frustrating when natural conditions are poor either due to lack of snowfall or rain that decimates trails in the backcountry. 

Most resorts on the other hand blow their own snow to supplement the base layers and keep certain groomed trails open. If you don’t own a primary, getting a few laps in with your splitboard may scratch that itch to ride.

Suggestions for riding a splitboard at a ski resort

If you do bring along a splitboard, challenge yourself and build up your riding experience, and be sure to follow all resort rules and policies.

Get comfortable riding a splitboard

First timers prefer having intimate knowledge of exactly how their gear operates. A splitboard isn’t going to ride exactly the same as a snowboard.

Therefore, it might make sense to test out your snowboard at a local ski resort prior to your first backcountry or alpine touring trip.

Meanwhile, taking avalanche training or winter backcountry safety courses to brush up your knowledge and skills.

Seek out tougher terrain

Since the main purpose of a splitboard is for the backcountry, use the opportunity to challenge yourself if you are snowboarding at a resort. Aim not only for the steepest descents, but for challenging features such as ungroomed trails, glades and wooded areas, and even moguls.

These terrain elements will challenge you as a rider and improve your snowboarding skills. When you are in the backcountry, splitboarding will be challenging.

Understand the Uphill Policy

Not every ski resort or mountain will have the same policy when it comes to uphill access. It’s free to skin up at certain areas, while others will charge for an uphill access ticket, which will be cheaper than a lift access ticket.

Some resorts have restrictions on certain areas and trails specifically meant for uphill traffic. Others have even banned uphill access entirely!

Most importantly: reach out directly to resorts and mountain staff to verify that information is up to date.

Conclusion: Ride your splitboard wherever you want, just keep expectations in check

No one will stop you from bringing your splitboard to a ski resort. However, be prepared for some funny looks or questions from resort staff and guests who have never seen this type of setup or wondering why someone brought their splitboard to a resort.

It’s also important not to expect the best riding experience ever if you’re riding in-bounds at a resort, especially on groomed trails. Think of it as practice rather than pure enjoyment.

Finally, don’t blame the mountain for a core shot to your prized possession – the damage would be especially frustrating knowing that you weren’t even exploring the backcountry!