What more can I say that has not already been said both by myself and so many others? It is a mountain that is much beloved by so many skiers. It is often loved despite–and because–of its many shortfalls. But it has never fell short on history.
Meghan McCarthy McPhaul details much of Cannon’s extensive history in this slender yet rich paperback. The early history of Cannon is given the works but middle and especially later years are glossed over briefly. McPhaul’s writing is well done but not fully engaging. Both a high compliment and a criticism, each chapter reads like a New England Ski Museum Journal article. Unlike engaging contemporary pop history authors such as David McCullough, the history does not get brought to life by the words. McPhaul often begins and ends each chapter with reverent whimsy regarding what makes Cannon special. But such regard doesn’t extend into the history itself. Die hard Cannon fans will appreciate but not be moved by the writing whereas skiers unfamiliar with Cannon probably won’t feel the magical connection and bond.
When I picked up In Search of Powder, I was spoiling for a fight. The description and reviews promised hypocritical romanticism of the past. Romanticizing yesteryear while avoiding our own present impact is dangerous territory; and a difficult angle from which to present an argument. In Search of Powder reads best when it digresses into simple stories about people and their lives. It does worst when being judgmental (which is thankfully not too often). Despite spoiling for a fight when I picked up this book, I enjoyed the read–but came to a different conclusion than the author.
To say the popularity of backcountry skiing and alpine touring has grown by leaps and bounds in the past half dozen years would be a gross understatement. One indication of the growing popularity has been the demand and market for a book dedicated to the fundamental skills and knowledge supporting the activity. Mountaineers Books has published this valuable addition to its large series of technical outdoors titles. Whether this book will be an essential addition to your bookshelf will depend upon your level of experience and the type of backcountry skiing outings.
While even experienced backcountry skiers will pick up new tips and tools by reading this title, skiers with even a moderate amount of experience will find much of the information in this book elementary. Many of the basics of backcountry skiing are often learned the hard way after only a few outings. The internet also provides the developing backcountry skier with numerous resources to increase knowledge prior to and after adventuring for the first time. Such topics as equipment, gear, and clothing will be redundant and basic to all but the most uninformed and beginning backcountry skiers.
Wayne Sheldrake’s new memoir is less a story about his skiing exploits than a soulful and humorous adventure about discovering what is most important in our lives and about life itself. In Instant Karma: The Heart and Soul of a Ski Bum, Sheldrake draws upon his life lessons and journeys which are tied to the mountains, landscape, and people he treasures most. This extremely well written title has passages that read like poetry while conveying both a gripping life story and its resulting soulful philosophy.
The narration begins with a history of key moments in Sheldrake’s early life and his immersion into the ski bum lifestyle. This introduction, interspersed with key skiing recollections generally involving bone breaking accidents (Sheldrake manages to break his legs three times and his pelvis once), serves as the main memoir aspect of the book as we learn about the author’s situational hardships including excessive family dysfunction. Most notable amongst Sheldrake’s hardships is a defective heart valve that sidelines him from his most treasured passion of skiing. The heart valve issue puts him in a heart surgery ward alongside people twice his age.
Falling Season is the term Aspen’s Mountain Rescue team uses to denote the time of year when mountain activity and associated injuries increase substantially. Numerous climbers and hikers, both prepared and unprepared alike, begin venturing into the mountains during late Spring. When accidents occur and rescues are needed, volunteer driven teams such as Aspen’s Mountain Rescue put themselves in harms way to save lives.
As a member of Aspen’s Mountain Rescue team, Hal Clifford has an insider’s view of Aspen Mountain Rescue specifically and Search and Rescue in general. Clifford acknowledges his biases by stating up front that he is a member of the Mountain Rescue team first and an author second. The author manages that balance well by utilizing quotes from everyone involved and painting a balanced story.