Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book, Revised and Even Better!: Traveling & Camping Skills for a Winter Environment
By Allen O'Bannion and Mike Clelland
BackCountry Ski Book is a little bit misleading of a title, it really is more of a guide to the backcountry written for skiiers. This book is filled with nuggets of wisdom on how to survive and have a great time in the backcountry, when you are skiing.
Much of the book assumes some familiarity with skiing and the outdoors. An absolute beginner can still glean new ideas from context. If this is your first introduction to avalanche safety, and you are planning a trip where this will be important to know stuff, you can get a good intro from this book. The writers also give a list of recommended resources for anyone who needs or want more information.
Clellands cartoon illustrations scattered throughout the book are helpful in understanding the text. The Gonnick style humor keeps the illustrations funny and educational. After O'Bannion states why doing something in a particular manner may not be wise, and gives a better way to manage, one of Clellands illustrations will give you a picture to prove O'Bannion's point.
Some of the tips and suggestions in this book occasionally contradict one another - both Clelland and O'Bannion put in their own favorite tips, even when they disagreed. This allows the reader to select the best idea for themselves. The writers were clear to include under what conditions each idea works best.
This book does not give a lot of instruction on exactly how to ski in the backcountry. You won't find a lengthy discussion of body mechanics on all-mountain vs alpine vs classic skis on virgin powder or slopes. There is some brief discussion on how to get uphill on skis, and similar skills necessary when you aren't at a ski resort.
This book does not have an index, making it a little more challenging to go back and use the book as a reference. Since it is a paperback, you can always mark it up.
The tips on winter camping are really good. There is guidance on which type of camping stoves to get, how to keep your water bottle from freezing, how to pack a sled and many other useful tidbits in this book.
I purchased this book with my own funds. If you are ready to leave resorts behind and head off into the backcountry, get a copy of this book to guide you.