(Editor’s Note: I’m over in Vail doing some trail research for hutski.com. Was going to just chatter away about some hiking I did yesterday, then this came in over the transom as an email. I figured the collective wisdom of all you WildSnow commenters could help this guy out. He wants to make snow, not war. Let’s help him out! -Lou)
I wanted to write and tell you thanks for exposing me to backcountry and steep skiing. Last year I was in Iraq when my “hutch”, a little air/sea container with a cut out for a door and an A/C unit where I live was hit twice in two days by rocket fire. My roommate and I were lucky and not in the room when it was hit. I was in the hutch several days later when I noticed my TV/DVD player and A/C still worked. I got STEEP in a care package from a friend cranked up the A/C and put my lucky ski cap, now well ventilated, on and zoned out to watch another ski film.
What I found wasn’t a bunch of guys that can ski better than I ever will, although they do. What I found the essence of why people take risks to ski the greater and greater lines. It changed my life. I was taking risks in war I didn’t particularly believe in. I knew I liked the risks and I would need to find it elsewhere outside of a warzone. I have found it. Six days later I was offered my next assignment: Suva, Fiji or Bern, Switzerland. I told my boss I didn’t swim and he just smiled and said that he already knew that.
I arrived in Bern Feb 1, 2009. My new boss took me skiing the next day. I found my answer to that old question: Is it better to be a prince in hell or a servant in heaven. My best friend told me that was a parable, not a question to be answered. I know my answer to his parable.
I started off piste skiing last winter and I want to improve both technically and athletically.
My question to you is, how would you go about improving from a solid on-piste skier to a one season off piste/steep skier?
Books, DVD’s and recommendations of guides/instructors in Switzerland or Chamonix would be great. Also I want to buy a signed copy of your of your book Wild Snow, I will be back in the US in 2012 to ski some of those lines.
Thanks Lou and all, K.S.