You already have your board. You bought skis last year, new boots last summer. What more could you possibly need?
Actually, a lot. And if you’d just change ‘need’ to ‘desire,’ even more. Here’s your Gift List of Burning Desire. It starts with something free, then something[s] to read, then shorts that protect your delicate parts, belts that hold your pants up, and … and keep reading.
Need to get in the mood for snow? Good news — got it, and there’s no charge. is a ski film by the godfather of freeskiing, Mike Douglas. Not only is it way better than most ski flicks — funnier, wiser, better edited — it’s absolutely free.
At least one of these three new ski books will light your fire. One’s sexy, one’s helpful and one’s a thing of beauty. We’ll start with sexy.
“Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery” by Steph Jagger opens with the author “on all fours in a gravel parking lot, cowering like a wounded dog … I watched a whole river of snot as it dripped from my face …”
Despite the dripping snot, Unbound is the most fun you’ll ever have reading a ski book. Out of the blue, Steph (she’s a girl-Steph, not a boy-Steph) decides to ski four-million vertical feet across five continents in one year. During this insane escapade, she falls in love, falls in lust, falls from a horse, falls on ice and falls off a mountain. And falls for food: “You know when you eat something delicious, and you put the first few bites in your mouth, and you can barely breathe, it’s so good? You know that feeling where your mouth gets all slobbery, and you eat a few more bites, and moan a little bit, and the whole thing is orgasmic?”
The woman can write.
As can Kristen Ulmer, author of the useful book, “The Art of Fear: Why Conquering Fear Won’t Work and What to Do Instead.” If fear is messing up your skiing, snowboarding, or just plain living, “The Art of Fear” may change your life. The author has changed many lives with her Ski to Live camps, and now she puts her experience dealing with fear in print. Kristen asks, “Why should I be the one to write a book about fear? That’s easy: My whole life has been about fear.”
For that thing of beauty, pick up “Tracks in the Snow: Stories from a Life on Skis” by veteran ski writer, Peter Shelton. Tracks is filled with intensely personal, sometimes haunting writing, all of it with skiing either at the fore or just off-piste. Here’s one passage: “Down I curved, adrenalin fizzing in my veins … No past. No future beyond the start of the next turn. Slicing left and right through this angled, yielding world of airborne crystals, sideways light, wind made visible — everything moving at once.”
What if, just if, your hi-tech clothing protected your bod from a high-impact fall? Sounds futuristic—
But it isn’t. endeavor to pull off that trick today. Here’s how. They’re designed to stiffen on impact. Which means, when you fall on that death cookie, the G-Form’s impact zone instantly hardens and thus instantly protects your flesh from contact injury. Best guess: This technology is of particular importance when worn by fast-falling snowboarders. The only hitch? No fly.
For reasons unknown, a lot of ski pants now come without belt or suspenders or something to hold ‘em up. Enter, the new belts.
They’re belts. What makes ‘em new?
Their straps are stretchy fabric, not stiff leather. Buckles are lightweight plastic, not TSA-upsetting metal. And they’re easy-off for cold-weather pit-stops. Check out two brands: and . The Jelts are made from recycled bottles by incarcerated women in Montana, and a buck from every Jelt belt sold goes to local charities.
Yes, even though you have your boots, you still need the thing that stands between those boots and your ten little piggies — socks. Here are two headquartered in snow country and made in the USA:
The couple behind Point6 brought Marino wool to ski socks more than two decades ago, and they make warm, breathable, itchless Merino wool socks today. They’re HQ’d in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
What do you need in a base-layer top? Warmth to match your mountain — light for California and New Mexico, toasty for Alberta and Quebec. A zipper to let air in and keep snow out. Itch-free — Merino again. A neck-hugging collar. Trew’s meets all those needs. And it looks good enough for you to wear in the baselodge bar without drawing sneers and jeers.
OK, most of my picks are, well, utilitarian. To put it mildly. Fine. How ‘bout a bit-o-bling? At last. A down vest is—Jules! A down vest is NOT BLING!
Wait. How do you define “impossibly light,” Jules? How about one-pound-four-ounces? And, it doubles as a backpack, with padded, removable straps. So there.
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