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Books and Magazines     (Page created March 1998, last updated February 2003)

This page contains brief reviews of numerous books and magazines which contain information about ski and snowboard mountaineering. It is divided into four main sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering Instruction, Mountaineering & Climbing Instruction, Ski Mountaineering Safety, and Ski Mountaineering Magazines. The final section on Skiing & Mountaineering Guidebooks has been moved to a separate page (see below).

This page now includes links to where you can see additional info about the books and buy them if you wish. Although several of the books listed below are unfortunately now out of print, note that can do searches for used books, and some of the out of print books below have links to Amazon. If they can't find it, one of the best places to look for these used books is Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. The most comprehensive online search engine is, which searches for both new and used books at numerous online stores and databases.

Sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering | Mountaineering & Climbing | Safety | Magazines | Guidebooks
Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering Instruction
Ski Mountaineering
_ Peter Cliff; Pacific Search Press, Seattle, 1987, 160 pp. (out of print)     ( View this book at )
The first half of this book is a comprehensive instruction manual, covering all major aspects of ski mountaineering, including extreme skiing. The latter half gives an overview of major ski mountaineering regions worldwide, highlighting a few routes in each. All topics are covered from a noticeably European perspective, since the author is a guide in the Alps (visit his website).
Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book
_ Allen O'Bannon; Chockstone Press, Evergreen, CO, 1996, 120 pp.     ( View this book at )
A very humorous, but comprehensive, instruction manual for backcountry skiing, with marvelous illustrations by Mike Clelland. It covers equipment, skiing, winter camping, and snow shelters. Worth buying just for the drawings, even if you already "know it all".
Mountain Skiing
_ Vic Bein; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1982, 192 pp. (out of print)     ( View this book at )
This is primarily a guide to skiing technique, with an emphasis on nordic (telemark), but also including alpine touring (randonnee) and extreme skiing. It also covers the basics of winter travel, camping, survival, and rescue. The information in this book is still quite useful and relevant, despite being nearly two decades old.
Alpine Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering Handbook
_ Jeremy Whitehead (Editor); West Col Productions, Reading, England, 1990, 110 pp.
A comprehensive manual for ski mountaineering, again from a noticeably European perspective. Covers all of the standard topics, with an emphasis on hut-to-hut touring. Contains a good section on "Transport of Casualties", which covers sled-building and improvisational rescue techniques.
Manual of Ski Mountaineering
_ David Brower (Editor); Sierra Club, San Francisco, 1962, 256 pp. (out of print)
This somewhat dated book is mainly useful nowadays for its insight into the way ski mountaineering used to be. Another very comprehensive instruction manual, it includes a practical "ski mountaineering test" which many experienced ski mountaineers today would be hard pressed to pass. The editor was one of the heroes of the 20th-century environmental movement, leading the Sierra Club in its efforts to pass the Wilderness Act of 1964 and other key environmental legislation, and leaving a lasting legacy for all of us. He passed away in November 2000 at the age of 88.
Backcountry Snowboarding
_ Christopher Van Tilburg; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1998, 144 pp.     ( View this book at )
Covers the basics of backcountry snow travel from a snowboarder's perspective, including coverage of splitboards, ascent skis, and other specialized gear. The author is a doctor specializing in wilderness medicine and the book includes chapters on mountain safety, avalanche safety, and first aid. Excellent color photos throughout the book.
The Physics of Skiing: Skiing at the Triple Point
_ David Lind & Scott P. Sanders; Springer-Verlag, New York, 1996, 288 pp.     ( View this book at )
Being a physicist myself, I had to include at least one physics book on this list. But fear not, this book contains a wealth of fascinating information, and the authors (a professor of physics and a professor of English) make the book quite accessible to anyone who has taken high-school science. Explains the physics of snow formation and snowpack evolution. Explains the dynamics of skis and the effect of ski shape, construction, and waxing on gliding, wedging, and carving a turn. The book covers alpine, nordic, telemark, snowboard, and backcountry skiing.

Sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering | Mountaineering & Climbing | Safety | Magazines | Guidebooks
Mountaineering & Climbing Instruction
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (6th Edition)     ( View the paperback at . . . View the hardcover )
_ Don Graydon & Kurt Hanson (Editors); The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1997, 528 pp.
This massive tome is the standard textbook of mountaineering courses around the world, now in a much revised and expanded 6th edition. It comprehensively covers all aspects of mountaineering, from the basics of outdoor travel and safety, to more advanced techniques of rock, snow, and ice climbing.
Climbing Ice
_ Yvon Chouinard; Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1982, 192 pp. (out of print)     ( View this book at )
This is the classic textbook for snow and ice climbing, written by one of the pioneers in both ice climbing and equipment innovation (Chouinard is the founder of Patagonia clothing and Black Diamond equipment). Although now a bit dated, it remains useful for dealing with difficult snow and ice often encountered in ski mountaineering.
Ice World
_ Jeff Lowe; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1996, 256 pp.     ( View this book at )
A much more recent book than Climbing Ice, this is a good overview of modern gear and techniques. Much of the material deals with ice climbing far more advanced than any likely to be encountered while ski mountaineering, but the sections on alpine ice are quite relevant.

Sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering | Mountaineering & Climbing | Safety | Magazines | Guidebooks
Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering Safety
Accidents in North American Mountaineering (annual)
_ American Alpine Club, Golden, CO     (View these editions at   2002 . . . 2001 . . . 2000 . . . 1999)
This annual publication (now over 50 years and counting) contains descriptions and analysis of hundreds of mountaineering accidents, from the mundane and commonplace to the gruesome and horrifying, with causes ranging from avalanches and foul weather to inexperience, poor judgement, and mind-boggling stupidity. The editorial analysis and statistical tables are quite informative and instructive. Learn from the mistakes of others!
Mountaineering First Aid (4th Edition)
_ Jan Carline, Martha Lentz, Steve MacDonald; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1996, 144 pp.     ( View this book at )
First aid skills are essential in the backcountry, where outside help may be hours or days away. This book covers the basics of first aid in wilderness and mountaineering situations. It is best used as a textbook in conjunction with a hands-on mountaineering-oriented first aid course. Everyone who travels in the backcountry should take such a course (see my Links page for some groups and guide services which offer them).
The Avalanche Handbook
_ David McClung & Peter Schaerer; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1993, 272 pp.     ( View this book at )
Avalanches are the most common deadly hazard encountered on ski mountaineering trips. This classic book details weather, terrain, and snow conditions leading to avalanche formation, along with methods for predicting and avoiding them. It also covers the basics of avalanche safety and rescue techniques, although on-snow practice of avalanche rescue is essential to learning these skills. The book is very detailed and can be quite technical in some sections.
Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain
_ Bruce Tremper; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 2001, 288 pp.     ( View this book at )
This new book is a comprehensive practical guide to avalanches and hazard evaluation, written by one the experts in the field (Tremper is the director of the Utah Avalanche Center and he frequently lectures on the subject around the country). Detail coverage of the formation of snowpack conditions which lead to avalanches, along with safe travel practices and rescue techniques (including a brief discussion of recent developments such as avalanche air bags and the Avalung). Ends with a chapter on "The Human Factor", the psychological conditions which often lead one to disaster.
The ABC of Avalanche Safety (2nd Edition)
_ E. R. LaChapelle; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1985, 112 pp.     ( View this book at )
This is a tiny pocket guide to avalanche safety, by one of the foremost snow and avalanche researchers in the world. It covers the basics of avalanche formation, along with methods of stability evaluation and avalanche rescue. Several instructive case histories are also analyzed.
The Snowy Torrents: Avalanche Accidents in the United States, 1980-86
_ Nick Logan & Dale Atkins; Colorado Geological Survey, Denver, 1996, 280 pp.     ( View this book at )
An in-depth analysis of 146 avalanche accidents, somewhat like Accidents in North American Mountaineering but much more detailed. Numerous photos and diagrams illustrate the terrain conditions at many of the avalanche sites. Includes a comprehensive statistical analysis and a table of avalanche accidents in the US since 1910. Knowledge of the mistakes and tragedies of others might allow you to avoid similar situations in the mountains!
Avalanche Accidents in Canada, Volume 4: 1984-1996     ( View this book at )
_ Bruce Jamieson & Torsten Geldsetzer; Canadian Avalanche Association, Revelstoke, BC, 1996, 208 pp.
Similar to Snowy Torrents, this book analyzes 87 avalanche accidents, broken into categories of skiing/snowboarding, snowmobiling, hiking/climbing, and residential/industrial/transportation. Many of the analyses are enhanced by the inclusion of a table with extremely detailed snowpack and weather information (whenever such is available), including a profile through the snowpack layers. Very useful and informative.

There are several other useful avalanche safety books out there, but regardless of which ones you read, it is essential to TAKE AN AVALANCHE SAFETY COURSE before attempting any backcountry snow travel, and afterwards to regularly practice the skills learned there. (See my Links page for some groups and guide services which offer avalanche courses.)

Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue (2nd Edition)
_ Andy Selters; The Mountaineers, Seattle, 1999, 144 pp.     ( View this book at )
A comprehensive instruction manual for glacier travel and crevasse rescue. It contains in-depth coverage of several modes of roped glacier travel, along with a thorough description of several crevasse rescue systems, including 6:1 advantage systems such as the Canadian Drop Loop. More advanced, but often useful, techniques such as autoblocks and load-releasing hitches are also covered. A brief chapter deals with glacier skiing and hauling sleds. Now available in a new and slightly expanded 2nd edition.
Glaciers! The Art of Travel & the Science of Rescue
_ Michael Strong, Eck Doerry, & Ryan Ojerio; Falcon Publishing, Guilford, CT, 2001, 176 pp.     ( View this book at )
A new book which covers the subject from a slightly different angle than the standard book by Selters. It has less description of glaciers and their features, but more detailed and extensive descriptions of rigging (ropes, knots, and mechanical devices) for glacier travel and for numerous crevasse rescue systems. Unfortunately, the book lacks an index (an omission common to all Falcon Guides), which compromises its utility somewhat.
_ Michael Hambrey & Jürg Alean; Cambridge University Press, 1992, 208 pp.     ( View this book at )
Those planning to travel on glaciers would do well to first understand the mechanics of glaciers and crevasse formation. This book is the best general introduction to glaciers and glaciology, with detailed (but non-technical) explanations illustrated with numerous color and black & white photos. Unfortunately, it appears to have recently gone out of print.
Glacier Ice (Revised Edition)
_ Austin Post & Edward R. LaChapelle; University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2000, 160 pp.     ( View this book at )
This classic book has now been reissued in a paperback edition, 30 years after the original. The authors, two of the giants in the field of glaciology (and also aerial mountain photography in Post's case), have slightly revised the original text after so many years. But the heart of the book is the original black & white photos, a fine collection of images which exquisitely displays the glacial phenomena explained in the text. This book is a must for anyone fascinated by glaciers.

Sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering | Mountaineering & Climbing | Safety | Magazines | Guidebooks
Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering Magazines
_ Couloir Publications, Truckee, CA; published 5 times per year     ( Subscribe to this magazine at )
One of the two magazines focusing on ski (and snowboard) mountaineering and backcountry skiing (and boarding). "Couloir" has been around a few years longer than "Back Country", and over the years has developed into quite a slick, well-produced magazine. The articles are very good in general, and the photos are usually excellent, especially in the Photo Annual issue. Equipment reviews are now spread throughout the season, and they cover randonnee, telemark, and snowboard gear. The "Avy Science" column in each issue containes a wealth of valuable avalanche hazard evaluation and rescue techniques. Definitely worth subscribing to, visit their website.
Back Country
_ Back Country Publishing, Arvada, CO; published 4 times per year     ( Subscribe to this magazine at )
The other of the two magazines in this genre. Generally well-written articles, quite polished for a small magazine. The articles cover a full range of topics, including destinations, equipment, interesting people, and notable first descents. Their equipment reviews are now also spread throughout the season, instead of being concentrated in the first two issues each year. Also definitely worth subscribing to, visit their website.
_ Primedia Magazines; published 7 times per year     ( Subscribe to this magazine at )
Of the several major mainstream ski magazines, "Powder" definitely has the best coverage of ski mountaineering topics. Most issues contain a couple of articles about ski mountaineering, along with much coverage of extreme skiing. The annual gear review issue even covers telemark equipment. The photography is easily the best of any ski magazine, mainstream or minor, and the Photo Annual issue is now done in a large format. You can find this one at any newsstand, or visit their website.
_ Times Mirror Magazines, New York, NY; published 7 times per year     ( Subscribe to this magazine at )
What's a big mainstream, advertising-driven ski magazine doing on this page? Surprisingly, "Skiing" runs a number of ski mountaineering related articles each season, far more than "Ski" or "Snow Country" (the other big ski-advertising vehicles). The single best feature for ski mountaineers is the monthly column by Michael Finkel. Over the past few years, he has skied in the most distant portions of the globe (Kilimanjaro, Bolivia, etc.) and covered these trips most humorously in his column and in feature articles. It's worth finding the back issues just for these articles! Try their website.

Sections: Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering | Mountaineering & Climbing | Safety | Magazines | Guidebooks
Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering Guidebooks

This section has been moved to a separate page.

The guidebooks are now in the bibliography section of
Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes,
my online guidebook to year-round ski and snowboard
mountaineering on 28 volcanoes in the Cascade Range.

Reviews of ski guidebooks for other regions beyond the Cascades
may appear here in the future, if I can find time to write them.

If you know of any other useful ski and snowboard mountaineering books, please contact me with suggestions. In Association with
Ski Mountaineering Equipment | Book Reviews | Web Links
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
All material on this website is ©1997-2004 by Amar Andalkar unless otherwise noted.
Last modified Wednesday, February 5, 2003