Splitboarding the high country

Nicholas Caselli has an enviable job. In fact, he has two seasonal jobs any outdoorsman would covet. He spends his winter months in Durango, Colorado as a snow safety specialist and snowboard guide at the nearby Silverton Mountain Ski Area, which offers guided descents of its experts-only and "extreme" terrain. In the summer months he visits his parents who live outside of Ashland and leads ascents on Mt. Shasta as well as guides whitewater rafting on the Rogue and Klamath Rivers.

Nick says that Durango is a mirror image of Ashland, a small mountain town with a year-round population of nearly thirty thousand and a local state college with an enrollment of four thousand. Durango, like Ashland, attracts people with a deep appreciation of the wilderness.

While in Ashland Caselli, 30, works for Shasta Mountain Guides, the original guide service on Mt. Shasta. Though a majority of his clients come from the San Francisco Bay Area, some come from as far away as Russia and China. One of the unique trips he offers is Snowboard Mountaineering, in which he gives instruction in split snowboarding, snow camping, rope work, and avalanche safety. In this particular course, day one consists of an all-day hike/ski to camp, day two is comprised of instruction, and after waking at — a.m. on day three, he leads a grueling eight to twelve hour climb to the summit of Mt. Shasta. Then an exhilarating snowboard descent of over 7,000 vertical feet returns the group back to their cars and all the comforts of civilization.

With the advent of the split board, snowboarders no longer have to snowshoe into remote areas to find fresh snow. The split snowboard is simply two halves of a board snapped together. As with alpine-touring or telemark skis, the split board uses skins to provide traction for the ascent. The skins are then removed and the board is clipped together for the descent. The split board has increased the range and ease of accessing deep powder runs and big mountain descents for the adventurous and skilled snowboarder. Nick built his first split board in Washington in 2001 and now instructs the technique on Mt. Shasta.

Nick's recipe for success at his dream job has been to combine his myriad experiences with extensive formal training, leading to an impressive resume. His youthful pursuit of skateboarding fueled his love of snowboarding, which he has avidly pursued for the last ten years. His degree in geology, specializing in snow science, from Fort Lewis College in Durango, created the foundation for his extensive background in avalanche control and safety. He is certified as an EMT, a Wilderness First Responder, and in avalanche control. Nick's lively personality seals the deal in a profession that necessitates considerable interactive skill with clients that are often demanding.

Nick feels his extensive background greatly increases the safety factor for his clients. He also feels that instruction increases their awareness and proficiency in outdoor adventures. Nick's approach to the guided tours reflects his personality: thorough planning, increased skill levels, and a novel approach blend into a fun and rewarding outdoor adventure.

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