Resort snowboarding is often troubling: The lift lines are long, the trails congested, and there's not a stash of fresh snow to be found. But, just out of bounds, there's an endless bounty of deep powder.
Sure, you could book a helicopter to take you to the untouched powder, but that means shelling out a mortgage payment for a day's worth of backcountry fun. A more reasonable option would be trading your current stick in for a splitboard to access the untouched stuff. Those break-apart boards are expensive, though, and make it difficult to keep up with skier friends when ascending. Even more challenging? You have to perform some serious surgery – reattaching the two halves, repositioning the bindings, pulling off and storing climbing skins – before you drop in. And since you're at or near the summit, usually above treeline, you often have to accomplish this in the nastiest conditions of the day.
Snowboarders looking for a simpler solution should invest in the MTNApproach System. Designed specifically for ascents, the System features a pair of nine-pound ascent skis that fold into thirds when not in use. It also includes bindings, permanent climbing skins, and a custom backpack with ski sleeves and exterior snowboard straps. All you'll need are poles and the proper avalanche gear.
During one month of testing in and around Mammoth Lakes, California, the System proved to be fast and fierce ascenders. And during those normally arduous hilltop transitions, we had our skis folded and packed away before fellow riders had removed their skins. In short: The MTNApproach System is one of the simplest, smartest ways for snowboarders to ascend the backcountry and drop into the deep stuff faster. [$795, mtnapproach.com]