Ski Randonnee — Book Review

Post by blogger | January 31, 2007      

If you need proof that randonnee AT ski gear is popular, look no farther than the effort author Jean Vives made to write, produce and publish this excellent primer on what is done with such gear in the backcountry. But don’t let the name fool you. Even though Jean’s ski gear descriptions are limited to the rando side, anyone (telemarkers, snowboarders) who wants a complete guide to the basics of ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing will find this book useful, if not essential.

If you’re a well-rounded expert in backcountry skiing you won’t find much new in Jean’s book, but anyone up to an advanced intermediate level will find something to enhance their knowledge base. Examples: Navigation chapter with excellent compass and GPS how-to; expedition chapter provides complete overview — from photography to cooking; survival chapter full of facts that anyone should commit to memory. Thus, this is the perfect book for anyone entering backcountry skiing or who is still somewhat green — a boon to all the freshmen and sophomores in our rapidly expanding sport.

Because “Ski Randonnee” is self published, it is refreshingly current compared to publisher produced books that sometimes take years to work their way through a kludgy corporate system. Indeed, this book is one more nail in the coffin of publishing conglomerates who frequently ruin how-to projects. That said, the work would have benefited from a bit more editing, as typos, overly homey writing and other oversights sometimes crop up and could reduce this otherwise excellent book’s credibility. More, Jean’s frequent mentions of specific products and models will quickly achieve a dated feel. But if that’s the price for timely self publishing of a book this complete, it’s a small one to pay. Besides, since Jean controls the editing and printing, he can easily do a batch of edits for each printing and thus keep things freshened up. (Defunct link removed 2015.)

In all, an excellent effort. Congratulations to Jean Vives!


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6 Responses to “Ski Randonnee — Book Review”

  1. Jeff Huber January 31st, 2007 2:56 pm

    Excellent review Lou! I hope you didn’t miss seeing the huge photo of Kasha Rigby in AT gear near (I believe) the beginning of the book. As you know, Kasha Rigby is revered as one of the tele heros by telemark skiers. It’s quite ironic she’s now in a book promoting AT skiing.

  2. Lou January 31st, 2007 3:06 pm

    Jeff, LOL, I did see that shot but forgot it was the infamous one that blew her image as a tele icon diva. Pretty funny that Vives stuck that photo in there, in the “Randonnee” book,” I’ll have to ask him if he did it intentionally.

    That said, asside from a brief chapter on gear the book applies to all forms of snow glisse. His privious book was called “backcountry skier” so I suppose he couldn’t use that name, but something along those lines would have been better. Besides, not everyone is French.

  3. Stephen Mills January 31st, 2007 6:01 pm


    I’m trying to order the book through your link in hopes you get credit. It seems the link is dead as I get an error message saying the page is not a functioning part of their web site.
    Can you fix this?


  4. Lou January 31st, 2007 6:24 pm

    Should be fixed now, sorry about that.

  5. Smido February 1st, 2007 8:13 am

    maybe you could publish your review on Amazon to give the book some credibility there and help Jean with sale of it. (I am not related to him in any way, I just though it might be a nice gesture to somebody who self-published a book about our sport.)

  6. Lou February 1st, 2007 3:45 pm

    Our policy here at is to pretty much keep our content here as it’s all we’ve got. It can easily be linked to… That said, it’s wise for any author to solicit reviewers for Amazon, so hopefully Jean will put some effort into that.

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