Roberston Glacier Summer Splitboarding

Words By: Simon Coward

Pics:  Tim Shaw and Simon Coward      

As many of you know, once the split season winds down we switch modes to our summer business Aquabatics which is focused on all thing paddlesports.  This takes a great deal of our focus and time, though, the split spark continues to burn and this year we are making sure to get out and ride every month of the year. 

With the last winters above average snowpack so far it has been a fantastic year for summer shredding!  Our first crack at a summer slide came yesterday when a small crew of us headed up to the Robertson Glacier just to the south of burstall pass.


Photo:  At the trailhead, ready for a little 'multi-sport' action

Those of you who partake in the odd pursuit of summer snow sliding know that there is usually a lot of walking involved with usually heavy packs.  So, our tactic with that (to minimize the end of day suffering) is to take said heavy packs and go to places where we can ride our mountain bikes at least some of the way!

Burstall Pass / Robertson trail is great for this.  You can ride the first 4km’s on a gradual uphill, park your bikes, hike the 5kms to the glacier, climb, slog back through the flats on foot and then have a super fun bike ride back to the truck.  One of our crew stated, “we are back at the bikes, might as well be back at the truck, so stoked!”  A 4km downhill bike ride sure beats a knee crunching walk (IMHO)


Photo:  Early on in the snowpatches, walking was supportive and fast


Photo:  On the glacier proper.  Snow was supportive and probing showed no signs of crevasse fall potential

To cut a long story short, it was a fantastic day in the mountains.  The sun was shining, the corn snow was unreal and we managed to snag a real quality 650m vertical descent on the glacier, and if you include a few walks over rocks and smaller snow patch slides we skied/boarded over 750 m of vertical in a day where our total elevation gain was only just over 1000m.  A delightful return on investment for summer riding.


Photo:  Topping out on the 'dirty' snow


Photo:  Lunch with a view.  Spent our lunch break on Roberston col in glorious sunshine.

The glacier is still well filled in, though some of the larger lookers left crevasses are starting to sag and become visible.  I imagine after a few more days of hot weather these will become much more evident.  We started our day at the Burstall pass trailhead at 7:30 am, we reached the Roberston col. At around 11:30am and were riding by noon.  Snow conditions were pretty much as good as it gets for July, we all agreed that we wouldn’t have wanted to be riding much later than that.  It was 20 degrees on the col at 11:30am


Photo:  First turns.  I couldn't believe how nice the turns were.  Felt like a perfect groomer day at the hill


Photo:  The best pitch we rode.  Super nice conditions

I would speculate that with the continuing hot weather there is likely another week or two of good riding up there.  For those into the special kind of suffering that summer riding brings, this is well worth the effort right now.


Photo:  The hike out in the hot sunshine

Hope everyone is enjoying this epic weather

Simon