Powder Magazine 35 Year Anniversary — Out of Bounds and Out of Luck

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 21, 2006      

The other day I got a phone call from photo editor Morgan at Powder Magazine, and last evening Tom Bie (Editor of Powder) rang up. They were looking for information about ski descents and a few shots of yours truly from olden days. According to Tom their Thirty Five Year Anniversary issue that’s coming up has a big retrospective covering what’s happened in skiing over those 35 years. Talking to the Powder boys reminded me that my debut as a ski writer was with Powder back in 1977, and that the musty article was still floating around the Dawson family archives.

I have to admit that in 1977 I thought by 2006 I’d either be dead or trying to move a spoon of oatmeal from bowl to mouth without spilling any on my pajama top. (Things have gone better than that, thank God, and life has been good. ) Titled “Out of Bounds and Out of Luck,” the antique article is amusing as a period piece, somewhat embarrassing, and worth kicking around. So I keyboarded it to WildSnow’s vast hard drive array and used it as a “look back” article that fits with our recent mountain safety theme. ( Link at bottom of this post.)

Powder editor and mascot David Moe (Captain Powder) got me to write the article. It was 1977, I was doing handyman work at the Climbing Magazine office in Aspen, and Moe was there talking to Climbing editor Michael Kennedy about some of Mike’s photos that Powder was publishing. Moe and I got to talking about recent unfortunate ski related events in my life, and asked me to write something up and send it to him. At the time I couldn’t write with the quality Powder wanted, nor in the hyperbolic ski hipster voice their writers have made a standard (I probably still can’t) but Moe liked the theme of what I sent him so it got printed.

At the time, according to the Powder’s intro squib I’d been “skiing 13 years, was part owner of a climbing school, and was well respected.” I don’t know where the latter came from as I was a dirt bag and proud of it, but the ski mountaineering had been going well and Aspen Climbing School was the first permitted mountaineering guide service in Aspen (that permit is still in use by one of our present guide businesses.)

Then it all came apart when I badly busted my leg out-of-bounds skiing on the backside of Aspen Mountain, in an area all local skiers called Keno Gulch or Keno Gully. I wrote about the rescue in the Powder article, but didn’t write about the year and a half of being crippled afterward, and what it was like changing in a few hours from a fireball mountain boy to a depressed gimp with a leg bone that wouldn’t heal. Someday I’ll put pen to paper and share that time of life, as doing so would be good and cathartic in many ways. Meanwhile:

“It snowed all day Friday and through Friday night. Saturday turned out to be one of those beautiful clear March days. The skiing was outrageous, bumps with piles of soft snow on top, good powder everywhere. It was crazy mach-ten all day except for a rest at the Sun Deck restaurant before last-run. We decided on the out-of-bounds shot down Keno gully…” Read the rest of the article here.


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3 Responses to “Powder Magazine 35 Year Anniversary — Out of Bounds and Out of Luck”

  1. Zach Lentz September 21st, 2006 10:25 am

    Thanks for sharing the Keno’s story Lou! Very interesting, and for those of us who know the route well, very easy to envision the horror of a rescue through that bushwhack!

  2. Mark September 22nd, 2006 8:10 am

    Starting around 1984, Powder fueled my skiing obsession like no other publication, and I’d tried pretty much all of them then: Ski, Skiing, Snow Country. These days I prefer the backcountry mags like Couloir as the others don’t really hit the mark.

  3. Mark Worley September 23rd, 2006 5:46 am

    Sounds like you had a cadre of friends that made your rescue possible–without which you might have suffered much more. It is interesting the shift in ski area boundary policies. So many places used to be 100% anti-rope ducking, and now whole-heartedly endorse it and have policies that seek to manage it. My buddies and I skied beyond the ropes perhaps three times back in the pre-open boundaries days, and even when doing so a mere couple arms breadths from the boundary and only for a few seconds was quite a rush. Guess we knew we could lose our passes–and that the patrol could likely spy us easily–but the snow was surely nicer out there!

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