If it’s true that you are what you eat, then I’m also hoping it’s true that you are what you read. And if that’s the case, then I just got a whole lot cooler.
I mean, just check out the titles of the hottest new ski books to hit the shelves: “Higher Love, Skiing the Seven Summits,” “The God of Skiing,” and “Powder, the Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet.”
These are titles that are sure to leave an impression on anybody snooping through your bookshelf or coffee table. Here’s a closer look at the recently published works of Kit DesLauriers, Peter Kray, and Patrick Thorne, with a bonus shout-out to Louise Hudson and Dr. Simon Hudson who also recently published “Winter Sport Tourism: Working in the Winter Wonderlands.”
1. Higher Love – Skiing the Seven Summits
Big adventures are often comprised of several mini-adventures—those fleeting moments of close calls and near-misses that could have easily evolved into life-threatening situations. But isn’t unforeseen drama an ever-present, and arguably necessary ingredient to an adventure?
“Higher Love” is a personal account of how Kit DesLauriers made good on her plan to ski the highest peak on each of the seven continents. Known as the Seven Summits, the list is composed of Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, Vinson Massif, and Kosciuszko. DesLauriers is a former pro patroller at Telluride ski area and the third woman to climb and ski the Grand Teton in Wyoming.
Yet, even as a certified wilderness EMT, Rescue 3 international rope rescue instructor, and helicopter rescue technician, she was often forced to alter or abandon her well-calculated plans once she was on the mountain putting one ski boot in front of the other.
The story grows richer with every peak. Her husband Rob accompanied her on most of the climbs, and on few occasions they ventured right next to death. DesLauriers writes:
Here I was desperately trying to make all the right judgment calls about how to handle this absolute-worse-case scenario, and out of the blue I had this logical, objective vision, as if the rational part of me had already accepted that Rob’s death was inevitable…We’d entered into this climb knowing that the descent was risky. This was the life we’d both chosen, and we’d agreed not to regret living it.
It’s an easy temptation for adventure writers, whether knowingly or not, to weave in slightly exaggerated heroics. Yet what DesLauriers shares in “Higher Love” is 552 pages of unabashed honesty about the thoughts and emotions running through her head as she endeavors to become the first person to ski the Seven Summits.
The book includes more than 40 color photographs and a bevy of quotes that we can all draw from to help fuel our next alpine adventures. At the time of this post, DesLauriers was with a crew adventuring to ski Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world.
2. The God of Skiing
In “The God of Skiing,” ski writer Peter Kray takes a gonzo-journalist’s approach to capturing an essence of the sport that tends to prefer staying hidden in dark corners. It’s a flowing, dream-like 180-page narrative that tracks Kray’s days of living the ski professor’s life in Jackson Hole, and covering World Cup ski racing (and related escapades) at notorious venues in places like Austria and Chile.
It’s a personal memoir fused with the fictionalized persona of Tack Strau, a promising ski racer that goes missing only to eventually reappear, one ski pole at a time, in the melting snow of the Tetons. On the cover of the book is Fritz Stammberger, a noted German ski mountaineer legend who had a double-life as a CIA agent and went missing in Afghanistan in 1975.
“I had to invent some things in order to tell the story I wanted to tell,” Kray says. “For anybody who has lived in a ski town, there are all of these local legends who are absolutely phenomenal skiers and if you didn’t know them, you’d never know about them. Tack is that person.”
In the book, Kray writes:
He said to make short turns was to deny gravity, actively resisting the big empty space in your chest pulling you down the hill. He said, “There are riders, and there are drivers.” And that “every time you traverse you deny some truth of you…why get that close and then pretend like it’s something else you’re looking for?
In skiing and life, sometimes people die before their time, and conversely, some folks just aren’t meant for growing old.
In “The God of Skiing,” Kray pays homage to a fictional ski buddy that embodies many of the traits of his real-life friends, while leveraging his award-winning story-telling to tap into the otherwise inexplicable aspect of the sport that keeps people pushing the bounds of what is possible when sliding on snow and ice.
3. Powder – The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet
When I saw the cover of Patrick Thorne’s “Powder, The Greatest Ski Runs on the Planet,” my gut sank and filled with butterflies at the same time. It was 80 degrees in July, and the book served as a stark reminder of how many days I had gone without skiing powder.
At the same time, the cover image ignited all of the excitement and anxiety of an 18-inch powder day. At first sight, it seemed like all I had to do was flip open the cover to drop into a snow globe of amazing powder runs. Each chapter, every run, is introduced with an astounding two-page spread, followed up with a map and more spectacular photography.
Nevertheless, the planet is a big place, and it’s always tricky business to categorize the unquantifiable into a list of better and best. How could one possibly narrow the globe down to 50 top ski runs?
In fact, readers might be surprised that only 11 runs in North America made the list, six in the U.S., and five in Canada. Clearly, in terms of awesome ski runs, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria own the lion’s share of the real estate. But Thorne’s list also includes lesser-known ski destinations in Greenland, Poland, Turkey, India, and Nepal.
“I tried to be international with the choice of runs, but honestly, 50 is way too small of a selection to have to make when you consider there are 6,000 ski areas on earth in around 80 countries, and I don’t know, maybe 100,000 runs between them,” says Thorne.
He says he put a cap on the number of runs listed for any one country, then divvied up the remainder among other locations around the world. In the end, what he’s produced is a life agenda for skiers and riders who love to travel the globe and explore new powder-filled places. So here it is, go get after it!
4. Winter Sport Tourism: Working in Winter Wonderlands
Self-described lifelong ski bums, Louise Hudson, a ski journalist, and Dr Simon Hudson, a tourism researcher and professor, recently published “Winter Sport Tourism: Working in Winter Wonderlands.” The pair bill the book as “a one-stop need-to-know resource for winter sport tourism.”
The book explores the evolution of winter sports including economic, social, and environmental impacts and the latest consumer trends and future forecasts. In compiling the information, the authors gleaned knowledge, insight, and case study data from several entrepreneurs in the industry.
Looking for more good reads? Here are three more books we’d recommend adding to that dusty old stack of tattered ski literature sitting on your corner shelf.