Thanks guys... The boy (Jack) and his Mom are both doing great...
Nerdom - No diss on Shasta
That's actually one of my favorite places to go snowboarding in the world.
As for angles:
1. I define "hard boots" as either snowboard-specific hard, plastic shelled boots; ski boots; or AT boots. About the only place in the US with a good selcetion of snowboard-specific hard boot is www.bomberonline.com
2. To get the most out of hard boots, you need to run significantly higher angels than with soft boots. I run 45/45. many people like to back the rear foot off by about 5 degrees, but this just works for me.
In order to run angles like this, you need a skinnier board than most of the freeride shapes out there. Optimally, you want the toe and heel of your boots to sit as close to the edges of the board as possible without "booting out." (Mount the bindings, then check them with the boots in them against an adjustable carpenter's square.. I check it at 60 degrees. You can also just eye-ball it)
Depending on the width of the board I am on, I will adjust my angles. The majority of hard-booters out there tend to be piste oriented, and they use narrow, long boards.... we're talking 18cm waists... they can run angles in the high 50s.
The reason that you want hihger angles with hard boots, is that your power and "feel" is in the cuff of the boot. You want to initiate turns from the hips, looking down the fall line... there is a lot to it. I would check out the articles about angles, turn technique, etc.. on bomberonline.
Using hard boots changes the way you snowboard, but for me it has been all for the better. I'm not a "switch" type of guy, anyway... I like steep, fast, backcountry lines.
As for the price of my set-up??? Couldn't tell you exactly. I got most of it for free. I would guess that it comes in at around the same price as a splitboard.
I would reccomend talking to both Donek and Bomber about demo'ing their stuff at a resort, before committing to hard boots for a backcountry set-up.