You could spend years learning hard lessons in the field or you can skip the suffering by doing a little research before heading into the backcountry. Free Skiing: How to Adapt to the Mountain (freeskiingthebook.com, $65), by Swedish ski mountaineer and guide Jimmy Odén, is an expansive text covering avalanche skills, first aid, ski mountaineering, and steep skiing. Odén, through 366 photo- and diagram-rich pages, teaches adventure-seeking skiers how to think like a guide. "I still remember all the questions I used to ask myself," Odén says. "Only now I have the knowledge and experience to provide the answers."
The second recent release, Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering (mountaineersbooks.org, $20) is more the backcountry textbook of the two. Over 10 chapters, authors Martin Volken, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler of Washington State's Pro Guiding Service cover everything from group dynamics to glacier anatomy and ascending techniques. "This is an introductory book for alpine skiers crossing into backcountry skiing, as well as an advanced reference for experienced backcountry skiers" says Wheeler. "It's based on a body of proven knowledge from the international guiding community. We wanted to help disseminate that to the backcountry-skiing public."
- SKIING MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008