Splitboarder Kyle Miller Gets Gnarly in the Northwest

Conquering Cascadia's mightiest peaks with a new kind of snowboarding.

By Madelynn Vislocky March 22, 2013 Published in the April 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

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Image: Jason Hummel

Kyle Miller is not quite a household name in winter sports. But over the last decade, the 31-year-old Washington native has achieved pioneer status in a relatively new (and  bold) alpine discipline: backcountry splitboarding.

A splitboard is basically a snowboard that splits down the middle into two skis, a structure that allows riders to ski/hike into pristine backcountry, then snap the board back together to surf virgin snow. Miller uses the technology to conquer the Northwest’s mightiest mountains—up and down. With two documentaries giving his solo expeditions some mainstream exposure, Miller explains his three craziest Oregon exploits:

North Sister via the Early Morning Couloir  

“This is one of the steepest couloirs in Oregon.” (With an elevation gain of 5,000 vertical feet, the Early Morning demands stretches of climbing at 45-degree angles.) “It took me three trips in one season before I finally managed to ride it in late May, when the snow transitioned into crusty-surfaced ‘corn,’ which makes the five-mile approach easier.”

Mount McLoughlin’s Northeastern Face 

“A classic line in Southern Oregon, with a sustained run down of over 3,000 feet. After riding down, I climbed an additional nine miles through dense, dry forest.... The trail had received flood damage earlier in the season, so I was forced to ford a creek multiple times.”

Mount Jefferson  

“Possibly the most isolated volcano in Oregon—it’s a slog any way you look at it. I had to traverse the whole volcano clockwise twice to attain the 10,500-foot summit.” And when he got off the mountain: “I was bloody, blistered, and bruised, but ... I was stoked that I had completed my journey.” 

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