Sarah grew up in New England and started skiing at the age of 3 in 1986, and then switched to snowboarding at the age of 12. She moved to Crested Butte, Colorado in 2011. Upon her arrival she began her journey towards backcountry riding in the Elk mountains. She had no knowledge of backcountry touring, but quickly learned that it was what she wanted to conquer. In the summer of 2019 she travelled south to Patagonia for a 6 week mountaineering and splitboarding adventure. She decided that the Phantom set up would be the most efficient, safe and practical system to explore the Andes. Since that trip, Phantom has allowed her to explore farther and safer on expeditions. The uphill gain with Phantom makes touring more enjoyable and faster.
Sarah averages 100 days a year of backcountry touring.
Sarah works as an independent contractor.
Q & A with Sarah Chesebrough:
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: New England mostly MA, VT and RI. She went to undergrad in New York City and lived in Brooklyn for 8 years.
Q: What was childhood like?
A: I grew up on a sustainable farm in MA with over 300 acres. I was taught by my parents to take care of animals and harvest vegetables which instilled a strong work ethic. I learned to ski at a young age, and my parents always preferred to go on ski trips. I grew up skiing east coast ice and fell in love with going downhill fast.
Q: What do you remember about your first day Splitboarding?
A: My first day splitboarding changed my world. I knew immediately that this was my path to happiness. The first time I went to the backcountry I was on snowshoes with a solid board strapped to my back. It was such a suffer fest to get to the top. I realized that at that moment to be able to snowboard down mountains in the backcountry that I would need a splitboard set up.
Q: Tell me about a day in the mountains or a trip that you’re proud of.
A: Last spring April 14th my partner and I toured to Conundrum hot springs in Aspen from Crested Butte, Colorado (18 miles). It was a very dry spring because it was a very dry winter. There was about 10 miles of mostly dirt/mud/snow. My partner, Chris, thought that dirt bikes would be the most efficient way to get to the snow. I have a 2006 Yamaha TTR 125 that I bought a few years ago for $300. Its a little bike, most of my friends with 12 year old children ask to buy it from me.
Chris has a 2002 Honda XR 400, which is much bigger but appropriately fits him. We packed a tent and enough food for two days of camping. We strapped our boards and boots to our packs and hopped on the dirt bikes. We rode until there was too much snow, and then put our skins on to walk the final 7 miles to the hot springs. It took a lot longer than we expected. There was a lot of transitioning from skinning to boot packing. The snow was inconsistent and difficult to navigate. One of my favorite features of having a Phantom set up is the transition process, it is so easy and fast. I remember when I had my traditional splitboard bindings, they would always flop around or fall off and were a pain in the butt to keep bending over to ratchet. Its so nice to click in and out with the toe pieces, and much more efficient to strap your splitboard on your pack. It took us a total of 6.5 hrs hiking to finally arrive at the hot springs. We were pooped, and also very eager to soak. We picked out a place to put our tent, and around sunset, we went for a dip. It was lovely and after a hard day of travel, well worth it. We were camped at about 10,000 feet and had many options surrounding us to choose a tour for the next day. We decided to sleep in and go for a close by face called "Castleabra." We got up, packed a breakfast and started marching up around 10am. We summited around noon. It was great to get to the top of a couloir (13565ft.) in two hours. The snow was transitioning to an afternoon spring corn texture. It was steep, and carvable. A gimmy for a two thousand foot descent.
Afterwards we went to soak again, and then we took naps, and read books for a leisure afternoon. The following morning we packed up and made our way back to the dirtbikes. We were able to summit (pk 13318) on the way back which made the travel a lot more enjoyable. We made it back to our truck in the early afternoon, and while we packed the truck up with our dirtbikes and backcountry gear, we both agreed that we nailed that trip and it would become a top ten adventure for us.
Q: What drew you to the phantom set up?
A: The accessibility for uphill travel. I was feeling frustrated with traditional splitboard bindings and boots. I constantly had to replace broken gear on my traditional splitboard bindings and wanted something that would give me confidence while climbing up on variable conditions.
Q: What’s something you love about the phantom setup that wasn’t on your radar when you got into it?
A: Transitioning during the uphill from boot packing to skinning. It is so easy and fast and safer to take your foot out of a binding and throw your board on your pack. It is simple and efficient.
Q: What is your stance & how has it progressed since making the switch to Phantoms?
A: I ride +12/ -12. Slightly duck foot. With my traditional set up I had to have a wider stance and my feet were more ducked out. With Phantom my feet do not need to be that twisted out, and I can still enjoy the downhill.
Q: What is your favorite board to ride with your Phantom System?
A: I ride a 154 Coldsmoke. It is on the stiffer side, which makes me feel more stable, especially with my hard boots. I like being able to jump turn on variable steep snow, and both this board with the phantom setup has allowed me to do so.
Q: Any tips & tricks with the Phantom system?
A: Having a scraper in your pocket is a must have. Being able to keep the bindings and boots clean of snow with a scraper makes the transition smooth.
Q: What do you appreciate the most about the mountains?
A: Climbing a mountain and riding down gives me a feeling of respect and gratitude. I appreciate the give back while putting my work in to get up a mountain.
Q: What does life balance look like to you?
A: Allowing myself to ride at least 20 hours a week makes me happy. When someone asks how my day is going, I know I can always say it was great because I went backcountry touring or mountain biking or any type of recreation. I know that having a balance of recreating with work, is what I value as being a successful human. I know that I have a good time most of the time.
Q: Tell us about a mentor you've had in your life
A: Chris Miller, my partner, has taught me so much about backcountry touring. His ability to navigate and read mountains has taken me so far in my backcountry career. He taught me how to use ice axes, and cramp ons. He taught me that the uphill journey is crucial and just as important as the downhill journey. That is why I switched to Phantom. He knew that it would make me a better rider and backcountry partner.
Q: Favorite song?
A: All Beyonce
Q: What’s something you’d like to tell someone just getting into Splitboarding?
A: Backcountry safety is the most important thing to first learn, and then I would tell them about my set up and why it makes me feel good about my uphill and downhill.