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50 Classic Ski Descents of North America Hardcover – November 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


I ll cut right to it. The new book, Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America, could be to ski alpinists what a relic is to religious fanatics. Get this tome into your presence, and the 12 x 13 inch coffee table compilation of mind blowing photos and well written text will have you rubbing your hands over the cover in homage, and carrying it around cradled in your arms like something a priest tasked you to bring out of an icon repository. Icon on the alter. I found the crampon compatible votive candles at Seriously, you will find this book to be life changing. At first you might weep with frustration, since few of us will ever do more than a handful of the selected routes. But after your grief subsides, you will bow in respect to what's been done in North America, and find yourself spending hours, perhaps even days, going over the photos and text. You might even quit your job. While I wouldn t use the word worship for my feelings about Fifty Classics, (I reserve that for the big guy upstairs), the concept does apply. Take segid (respect and homage). Once you crack this tome, you have to respect the effort it took authors Burrows, Davenport and Newhard (BDN) to come up with a photography selection that is simply insane (50 photographers, no less!). Yes, the book does cover fifty ski descents and alpine ski traverses as the title implies, but each mountain and route is documented with numerous photos that go beyond anything you ve ever seen in a skiing book. Different angles, different light. Action shots. Landscapes. Aerials. All processed with modern computerized technique by Photoshop master Burrows. Randomly open to any page, and hope Obamacare covers pacemaker surgery as your heart skips. I ll do it. Closing my eyes now. Bam, page 173, South Face of University Peak, Wrangell St. Elias, Alaska. Seven thousand vertical feet of Alaskan fury. Only been skied once. Might be the best line in the world. Or how about sebo (fear and reverence). Closing my eyes again.... aha, page 121, Combatant Couloir on Mount Combatant, British Columbia. Read Mark Synott s account of skiing, including an entrance that he downclimbed first because it was so steep, then climbed back up and glissed after he realized it was possible. Put yourself in his place as he self actualizes and substitutes steel edges for steel ice tools. Sebo. Which brings me to how Fifty Classics is put together. Authors BDN give us introductions to each region, as well as the occasional intro style text for a given route. But they turn the actual blow-by-blow descriptions (for many but not all routes) over to sixteen contributors (and themselves, in the case of Davenport). And well they should, as a number of routes in the book have only had one descent, so the only way to get impressions of a trip down things like the North Face of Mount Robson would be to interview the practitioners, or simply get it written in their own words. With skillful editing and selection of contributors who are mostly published writers, doing so truly turned out fantastic. Sixteen excellent stories will keep the readers among us entertained that is if you can quit staring at the photos. It s sort of like reading Playboy magazine. Yeah, right. But you might get to the articles eventually. That s not saying every one of the fifty routes has an I-was-there story. But you ll find enough of that to grace many evenings of armchair skiing. One of the best stories in Fifty Classics is Pete Costain s tale of his first descent of Mount Stimson (Glacier National Park.) This is wilderness adventure skiing at its best, far different than most of what folks do in central Europe, and indeed a big part of what makes North American ski alpinism such a frontier and what makes our brand of skiing have an ethos all its own.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Capitol Peak Publishing (November 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982615434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982615430
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert S Bogner on July 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I am a ski mountaineer myself and know (slightly), a few of the skiers portrayed in this book; when it first appeared I was extremely anxious to see what they were skiing, hiking, writing, and photographing. In these respects, even tho the book was very high priced, I was not dissappointed. The writing, character portrayals, and photographs were even better than expected. However, in most mountaineering books there are diagrams of the assent and descent routes implanted in the photographs so that both the hike up and the ski descent down can be seen. These were totally absent, leaving me at a loss as to where they climbed and where they skied. Hopefully this vital aspect of a ski mountaineering book will be corrected either by adding "overlays" to the photos, or with a supplemental CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy J. Garrison on January 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When my 32 year old Son opened this gift up he was like a child. He was thrilled.. The book is beautiful and full of amazing pictures.. Couldnt be happier.
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By Ben Johnson on January 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Some great eye candy in this book (as well as narrative), but it still leaves a little to be desired. Sometimes it excels as a guidebook, sometimes it excels with photography and sometimes it excels with gripping narrative. Many routes depicted are amazingly well covered, with good descriptions, history, personal narratives, and photography. The precedent set with certain routes in this manner left me wanting more on entries that weren't as thorough. Some entries fell (quite) short, with lackluster ties between route descriptions and photography (Such as the Eldorado Peak or Mt Whitney). The Patriarch on Glacier Peak gets some good narrative, but is quite lacking in both route description and photography. Unfortunately, the miss on that inclusion is hard for me to let slip (especially since I am a Montana boy).

That being said, this is probably one of the more beautiful and unique pieces of its kind out there, despite certain imbalances. I still keep a napkin handy for dealing with my own drool, and secretly covet the copy I purchased as a gift for my brother.
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By Teton Pass on January 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book will sit front and center on my coffee table and should be for everyone else as well. Whether or not you're a skier, climber, outdoor enthusiast, it doesn't matter. You and anyone that opens it will enjoy the beautiful large format images, descriptions and stories that are detailed throughout this book. Do yourself a favor and pick this up!
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