This story first appeared in print in Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine’s December 2021 issue. Read the entire e-edition here:
A fun part of doing local stories in Revelstoke is connecting with the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs with new enterprises.
I was chatting with Chris Payne on the phone in the fall and asked him what was new. He told me he’d been working with his old friend, Joey Vosburgh, and they were starting a company focusing first on making splitboard poles.
Friends from the backcountry and since they were younger, Payne and Vosburgh got to talking this summer and decided to partner up.
Joey Vosburgh is well-known in Revelstoke and splitboard communities as a splitboarding pioneer. He’s an ACMG split guide, works as a guide, and has been sponsored by big backcountry equipment companies for years, including board, hardboot
setup and gear sponsors. He’s been known for using and championing hardboot setups for efficiency and the mountaineering aspects of backcountry splitboarding.
Chris Payne works as a graphic designer and web designer, among other work at the intersection of graphics, web design and e-commerce. (Disclosure: Payne has handled the website duties for revelstokemountaineer.com since we started.)
Together, they split lots of duties from a small workshop headquarters, with one wall lined with climbing ropes, harnesses, ice axes and helmets, the other with boxes of supplies, and the far wall with the manufacturing space.
Fighting product ‘stigma’ for an efficient design
Back to hardboots. Of course, softboots are the norm for snowboarding and most splitboarding, and Vosburgh feels “stigma” can still limit better ways of thinking about moving through the backcountry, including harder terrain.
The same thinking goes for the poles too, he says.
Vosburgh says he keeps his handy, just tucking them into his pack or sometimes just holding them in his back hand when he descends.
The Selkirk Sticks’s main design feature is its long and flat foam grip that allows you multiple grips and is low profile. A ‘grab anywhere grip.’
Vosburgh emphasizes the quick transition from extended to collapsed poles into a firmly clipped together and slim package with firmly nested baskets. With some dramatic flair, he quickly tucks the poles between his back and his pack, then whips them out and repeats it again.
“It’s all based on my guiding experience,” Vosburgh says. “This is a far more efficient pole.”
They slip in and out of tuckable spots on your pack easily because the grip is smooth, flat-profile and long. He feels there’s opportunity for splitboarders to use poles more as tool for mobility in the backcountry not limited to when you have your
As an example, he gives pushing with poles while strapped into your board on flat spots to preserve momentum, which reduces time and energy spent coming to stops, making you faster and more efficient.
Using field experience to launch a successful product
The design is based on years of field experience. Vosburgh shows me a frankenpole he had rigged up in his quest to develop the perfect design. Selkirk Sticks are aluminum for better durability on rocks and a one-piece pole to the tip for strength.
They have a special Perfect Paw basket that is larger than average at 100mm. The baskets firmly click together when paired and nested.
They both said the reception from Revelstoke and beyond has been amazing so far, with great feedback. They thought they’d see the good reception and it’s been a positive experience. They’ve sold them to some people who were really
enthusiastic about them.
In ski and snowboard focused Revelstoke, people are always excited when a great new local option pops up. “They want to support two guys in town,” Payne said, adding there aren’t any supply chain issues when you place your order.
“Sometimes within an hour we have them on our bikes” ready for delivery, Payne said.
The Selkirk Sticks sell for $150CAD and the first batch sold out, but they are building more. The company is new, so it can be hard to anticipate demand to come. It was an honour to drop by and find out more about a new Revelstoke backcountry equipment enterprise. Good stuff.
If you’re looking for the tech specs and ordering, head over to the Wolverine Snow Products website.