With age comes wisdom. Lou Dawson, no real introduction needed, is, if anything, wise. Over the years, his access to trends in gear, ski culture, and hidden powder gems has made his opinion one that matters. Maybe we’re a bit biased.
A prolific writer and documentarian of all things backcountry skiing, Lou will release an updated version of his quick-off-the-shelves Uphill Skiing and Light Tours of Colorado. First published in 2017, the book sold out, and with the uptick in the popularity of backcountry skiing and the desire for some to find more mellow terrain, a reboot was in order.
In this episode of the Totally Deep Podcast, Lou discusses the new iteration of the guidebook. It remains a publication from Beacon Guidebooks, which means it is spiral bound and user-friendly for in-the-field use. We’ll have more on the guidebook’s second edition when it’s released later this month.
Readers of WildSnow know, if you’ve got Lou’s attention, you might as well go deep. Beyond discussing the nitty-gritty of writing and publishing a ski-atlas, Lou and Doug explore the concept of risk in the backcountry, paying for an uphill pass at ski resorts, ski tours where it’s all about enjoying the view.
Doug comments, “One thing I’m interested in is, I guess, the vernacular around skiing, around ski touring and backcountry skiing, because we’ve talked a lot about, words coined, and words that come in and out of popularity and keyword phrases. You know, yes, ski mo, the dreaded word.
“When we got into the biz AT was big, which is the least descriptive thing ever. Yeah, most people didn’t even know what it meant. And I used to kind of talk more of like a keyword planning element with Lou and WildSnow. about, you know, what words are we going to popularize? … Lou and I tried to unite our efforts to just call it ski touring. Yeah. And very occasionally, alpine ski touring. But what I’ve been thinking about lately is, through some tragic events that I, you know, dealt with, maybe not firsthand, but certainly a very close second hand, I started really thinking about sports that are as dangerous as backcountry skiing.”
Doug goes on to parse some details comparing accidents in skydiving and BASE jumping, and linking those two similar but disparate disciplines to how we, in most cases, try to minimize risk, minimize exposure when skiing.
Lou responds, “Yeah, that is a good point. I had never thought of that. But yeah, you can parse those things out, and then the risk becomes a lot more conceivable in terms of whether it’s high or low. Instead of lumping everything into one sport.”
If that doesn’t perk the earbuds, there’s a lovely exchange on the nuances of “hygiene theater” (think Covid) and “avalanche theater”. Maybe two concepts to add to our lexicon? And yes, there’s a digression into style and expectations for potential ski tours to round it all off.
You can pre-order the book here.
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