Rain Felkl is an Alaska Native currently living in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains. After making the move to Utah, Rain was quickly magnetized to the freedom and adventure that is human-powered splitboarding. After a few seasons of venturing farther she realized there was a performance ceiling with the current splitboard boot/binding systems, which sparked an initiative to explore a more efficient system, leading her to Phantom splitboard bindings. Rain has had the opportunity to explore many corners of the Wasatch Range and go on memorable adventures in Alaska, the Tetons and the North Cascades. Bike to Boarding has really come into focus for her the last couple of years; it adds an exciting element to any adventure to be fully human propelled!Rain is a splitboard guide and avalanche course instructor for Utah Mountain Adventures and the Utah Avalanche Center. Rain is also an Ambassador for Cardiff Snowcraft, Black Diamond and a member of The Alaska Mountain Women group.
Q & A with Rain Felkl:
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: Juneau, Alaska - Áak’w Kwáan Territory - Tlingit Country
Q: What was childhood like?
A:I was born and raised in Juneau, Alaska on the ancestral and present day homelands of the Tlingit people. I was exposed to the mountains at a young age growing up in Juneau. As a child, my parents allowed me to roam, which encouraged my friends and I to explore more deeply. We would journey alone to explore the glaciers, rent forest cabins and spend the night on top of the surrounding peaks that tower over our small town. I grew up feasting on herring eggs, seaweed, fresh salmon, halibut and crab. I was fortunate to have grown up with a true appreciation for the land and be nourished by what nature provides us.
I grew up skiing at Juneau's Eaglecrest mountain resort with my dad and uncles. My grandfather and grandmother on this side migrated to Juneau from Austria, the ski sport ran deep in their culture. Once I left for college, I tried snowboarding in 2012. The movement flowed so right and I never looked back. I had an amazing childhood in a truly remarkable place!
Q: What do you remember about your first day Splitboarding?
A: I was fully absorbed into the freedom and adventure of human-powered splitboarding. It kind of felt like before splitboarding I did not know this new world was reachable. A realm filled with so much solitude, bliss and excitement.
Also, I remember it being very difficult and struggling hard with skinning, gear, self care, etc. Just like all things, it takes time to dial in. Be patient with yourself and if you put the work in it will come to you! I love splitboarding.
Q: Tell me about a day in the mountains or a trip that you’re proud of.
A: Biking to splitboard has really come into focus for me the last few years. Just like the uphill in splitboarding, it slows me down, enhances my senses, and gives me time to appreciate the journey I’m on. It provides space for a deeper connection with my natural surroundings and my partners. It is an opportunity to push through my mental limitations and move past what may seem impossible. It is exciting to realize that I can take the convenience out of driving and incorporate biking into spring missions. I recently completed the North Central Cascades Traverse from Holden Village, WA to the North Sauk Trailhead in 9 days with my partner Clay James. We decided to go full circle and bike the 200 miles back to the beginning with all of our splitboard and traverse equipment. The biking gave me time to reflect on the traverse and continue our adventure for 5 more days.
Q: What drew you to the phantom set up?
A: I felt as though there was a performance ceiling with my current splitboard boot/binding systems once I started dipping my toes in larger objectives, this sparked an initiative to explore a more efficient system. The advantages for ascending mountains with the Phantom system were very apparent. I was convinced that the downhill performance was an incredible experience by following the current riders on the system who were accomplishing remarkable endeavors. I chose Phantoms because there is a noticeable passion behind creating these high quality and innovative products!
Q: What’s something you love about the phantom setup that wasn’t on your radar when you got into it?
A: Phantom's high quality of construction and craftsmanship has been something that has impressed me over the years. It's something of true value after riding the same equipment set for three seasons and having it be solid and reliable in the mountains.
The link levers are a true game changer! They have advanced the downhill splitboarding experience for me and allow all my turns to flow.
Another one is the ability to lock your heels down in the Phantom set up with a ski strap and split ski on the out track. This is a must in certain zones for energy saving efficiency and time.
Q: What is your stance and how has it progressed since making the switch?
A: My current stance is +18 in the front and +6 in the back with the Phantom solo cleats. I am 20 inches wide. I have chosen to ride with the solo cleats because they are light and minimalist. I also don't adjust my stance anymore since I have dialed this one in. Since using Phantoms I have narrowed my stance width and I have adjusted both my front and back feet to direct more forward to the front of the board. I love the surfy motion of a positive/ positive ride.
Q: Any tips and tricks with the Phantom set up?
A: For tiny feet on the smallest M6 binding setting, if you are getting some movement in the toe don’t worry it is solid in there and will not pop out. However, you can adjust the nylon screw under the toe bail one or two turns and this will help hold it in place.
I ride my boots with a Palau Tour Lite Pro Evo Liners and the gold Link Lever spring most days. If I decide to ride in my Intuition Tour Wrap liners that are thicker in volume I will bump down to red Link Lever springs since I find the thicker liners add resistance.
Q: What do you appreciate the most about the mountains?
A: I appreciate the powerful energy I feel when I am present in the mountains. The deep connection to the natural world and the blissful notion after completing a mission. The mountains provide us with so much.
Q: What does life balance look like to you?
A: I have been working towards putting myself in a position where I have the freedom to go ride my snowboard the majority of the winter and spring. It's what fills my soul and it's what I want to be doing. I have begun guiding and instructing avalanche courses to educate and advocate for safe travel in the mountains. While aiming to enable and inspire others to venture further out there. At the end of the day for all of us, it's the people you spend time in the mountains with. Balancing life, I like to take time to do other activities outside of physical endeavors. I enjoy gardening, reading and hanging with my kitty cat, Asiago.
Q: Tell us about a mentor you've had in your life
Q: Favorite song?
A: Hard to say! Right now I am loving - Staying Alive by Anthony B. The song makes me feel fully alive jamming to it on my bicycle.
Q: What’s something you’d like to tell someone just getting into Splitboarding?
A: Pour your soul into it! Appreciate the process of the entire journey. When you return from the mountains, know that true success is a reflection of who you become, not what you achieve or accumulate.
Gear only works if you know how to use it so take an avalanche course and take the time to get familiar with your splitboard essentials. Find a mentor in the mountains and always be willing to listen, learn and work hard.