Before we go any further, something has to be made clear: I live on the east coast. New England specifically. I love it here, and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The mountains, the snow, and the culture here are a big part of how I became who I am, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
But that doesn’t mean this is an idyllic paradise. Some things are less than perfect, like early-season snow coverage in the backcountry. So while there are excellent backcountry riding opportunities here, they arrive later than they do in other parts of the country.
Normally this isn’t a problem, because the resorts open early enough, often earlier than most of the rest of the country honestly. Killington only got beat by Wolf Creek this year. So I ride resort for a few weeks while waiting for the snow to fill in. Not a problem.
But this year is different, a good different. It’s different because I got my first splitboard, the K2 Split Bean. So while most of the time I’m happy “only” lapping the chairlift this time of year and getting my legs back in shape, this year I was itching to get out and play with my new toy. So I did the only thing a committed New Englander could do this time of year- I rode my splitboard at a resort.
K2 Split Bean Review
Setup the night before was as painless as setting up a splitboard can be. K2’s Splittrack mounting system made it easy to line up my Voile pucks, and it only took a little tweaking to get the Voile sliders on with my Union North Star bindings attached. Skins and poles stayed home for this trip, and I zipped the Split Bean into my board bag ready to ride.
Strapping in the next day, the tiny size of this board struck me for the first time. Featuring K2’s Volume Shift technology, this board measures just 144cm. That’s 14cm shorter than my daily driver and shorter still than any powder board I’ve had success on. At 5’10” and 200 lbs I’m no giant, but I’m not a small guy either. Forget float, I was worried this thing wouldn’t have the power to get me down groomed runs.
Conditions at Waterville Valley weren’t about to let me find out how this board performed it powder, but there was more than enough to find out how this board handles. So I strapped in, pointed it downhill and waited to see what happened.
And what happened was that this board hauls ass. Often times shrunken boards can feel slow, even the ones that claim they ride just like a big board. But because the Split Bean is built stiff, you get a lot of response out of the small footprint, and powerful edge hold when you lay down a turn. It’s surprisingly easy to turn too, with no need to “jump up” to get on edge like you find with some short-fat snowboards.
That isn’t to say the K2 Split Bean ($999) rode like a regular snowboard though. The ultra-short length and Directional Rocker profile (rockered to the front inserts, then flat through to the tail) made this board extremely responsive and capable of ducking in and out of traffic, and eventually trees, with confidence at almost any speed.
So the split part of this splitboard remains to be seen, as does its ability to perform in deep snow. But if anything the groomed artificial conditions at Waterville Valley have only made me more anxious to get this board into the backcountry to see what it’s really about.