Some of our favorite books for passing the summer by...
As another summer swelters by, skiers and riders are left with little to do but wait for the merciful storms of fall. To combat seasonal boredom and get the wheels turning towards next season, Backcountry’s editors have compiled a list of books that will keep your mind in the mountains, whether on a plane to ski the southern hemisphere or relaxing in a hammock on a hot afternoon.
From the global adventure "Skiing Around the World," to the history of the northeastern mountains in "Forest and Crag," all of these books are dedicated to the spirit of the mountains and the people who love them. There are children’s books to share with family, essays filled with insight and wisdom, histories of skiing and mountaineering all over the world, and guidebooks for avalanche safety and classic backcountry skiing descents. The common thread is a passion for wild mountain places, places where people wait patiently—or impatiently, for snow to fall.
Forest and Crag
by Laura and Guy Waterman
A history of exploration in the Northeast, "Forest and Crag" engages the reader with tales of pioneer struggles, first ascents and contemporary development. From the first 17th century European explorers through modern day land management controversy, the Watermans blend fact and narrative to produce a thought provoking and entertaining read filled with their respect and passion for the mountains. A must read for right-coasters.
Skiing Around the World
by Jimmy Petterson
Buy Now in BCM Store
From Tahoe to Morocco, Austria to Australia, and Korea to Argentina, Petterson leads us from face shot to face shot in a globe trotting ski odyssey that's taken him a lifetime. At home on a coffee table, "Skiing Around the World" contains exceptional photos of exotic locales, great turns and diverse cultures. The writing is conversational and airy, filled with exciting anecdotes and a first person intimacy.
Killing Dragons, The Conquest of the Alps
by Fergus Fleming
Before the late 18th century, the Alps were unexplored and a source of such fear that mountain maps read, "Here be Dragons." Fleming narrates the Golden Age of British mountaineering in which the Alps were opened and the dragons slain. "Killing Dragons" is decorated with eccentric characters and exciting first-hand climbing and skiing accounts, including that of the disastrous Whymper party which was the first to summit the Matterhorn, losing four of seven members in the process.
Dragons in Paradise
by George Sibley
Sibley chronicles 35 years of mountain life in this collection of essays previously published by The Mountain Gazette, the High Country News, Colorado Central Magazine and others. From 1960s ski patroller in Crested Butte, CO, to professor of writing at Western State College in Gunnison, CO, Sibley writes of his experiences in the mountains and valleys surrounding his home, while postulating on the post modern urban-frontier. In the tradition of Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner, Sibley’s writing resonates with the pulse of the mountain west.
The Avalanche Handbook
by David McClung and Peter Schaerer
Any winter backcountry enthusiast should own this book. It is the definitive manual on snow dynamics, avalanche forecasting, control and survival, and is widely used by search and rescue, ski patrollers and outdoor education programs. It is simply the best resource available for learning how to make sound decisions when traveling in avalanche terrain.
The Adirondack Slide Guide: An Aerial View of the High Peaks Region
by Drew Haas
More picture book than a technical guide, the “Slide Guide” features over 70 of the Adirondack’s natural slides, faces and gullies, with clear black and white photos, names and labels for each. In the preface, the history of Adirondack exploration is explained, as is the unique geology that causes the slides to form. This is a fun flip-through book that may prompt you to start planning an Adirondack backcountry adventure.
Manual of Ski Mountaineering
by David Brower
Out of Print
Amazon.com from $3.76
First published in the 1940’s and reissued as the Sierra Club’s backcountry bible of the 1960’s, the “Manual of Ski Mountaineering” is a classic resource and a fun read. Updated by acclaimed environmental scholar David Brower, much of the information in the "Manual" is still valid; in fact, it is surprising how little the advice for traveling in avalanche terrain has changed in 60 years. Perhaps the best parts of this book are the dated and now hilarious tidbits such as “avalanche ribbons”, reading Robert Service poems in camp, and photos of enthusiastic skiers ripping it up on cable bindings and wooden sticks.
Biff America: Steep, Deep and Dyslexic
by Jeff Bergeron
Buy Now in BCM Store
Shameless self-promotion aside, Backcountry's own Biff America will entertain. His nuanced insights to ski towns, life, politics, family and himself grab readers with wit and genuine emotion. With titles like, "Nordic Racing and Bodily Fluids," and "Nosehair in the Name of Homeland Security," this collection of Biff’s best will send you for a loop. Equally at home as a commode accessory or stuffed in a backpack.
Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A History and Guide
by Thomas Turiano
If you live or ski anywhere near the 13 primary mountain ranges that make up the greater Yellowstone area, this is an indispensable backcountry resource. If you don't, you will still find the historical accounts, photos and route descriptions inspiring. Each of the 107 peaks is discussed in meticulous detail, with photos of routes, trip stats, resources, and a history of mountaineering and skiing on each mountain.
Go Dog, Go!
by P.D. Eastman
If you can't ski with your child, read to them. Not only will youngsters enjoy the rhyming, clowning pooches, and illustrations of this story, but it is one of the few children’s books out there with any skiing in it, if only for a page. Indoctrinate them early with the lure of the hills—for very young children.
The Race of the Birkebeiners
by Lise Lunge-Larsen
Illustrated by Mary Azarian
Illustrated with beautiful woodcuts and written in a simple yet eloquent style, each page is easy on the eyes and casual reading. Contained within is the story of King Hakon of Norway. Kids will love the archetypal hero story that explains the origin of the famously epic Birkebeiner nordic ski race. Young and old alike will enjoy this book.