Couloir Magazine — Who is Craig Dostie?

Post by blogger | March 13, 2007      

Okay, I’ll admit I’m an internet publishing junky. To me, paper and ink (P&E) are on their last legs — but they still have their place.

The worst thing about P&E (aside from resource use) is that once something is printed you can’t easily take it back.

And the best thing about P&E is that once it’s printed you can’t easily take it back.

That means if you want to publish worthy P&E, you’ve got to go over it with a fine toothed comb. The facts have to be straight. It’s got to read well and present something worth saying. But mostly, it’s got to stand the test of time because it’s going to exist on dusty shelves and library archives for many, many years. People intuitively know that P&E writing often receives more attention than web copy, so they give it a higher standard of credibility if the periodical in question has a modicum of respectability (e.g., National Enquirer vs. New Yorker).

Backcountry skiing publisher Craig Dostie.

Not all magazines can live up to such a standard all the time, but it is worth aspiring to. I know Couloir Magazine’s publisher Craig Dostie has done the best he can with that, given constraints of money and time. At times Couloir has fallen short, but on the whole since first publication in 1988 of “le Chronicle du Couloir” (as it was first known), the mag has indeed formed an archive-worthy chronicle of backcountry skiing as practiced in North America.

What prompted me to write this blog post is that I just received a preview of the next Couloir Magazine. Two interesting profiles make this a particularly compelling issue: An autobiographical tale by Ej Poplawski tells the story of his journey back from waking up in a hospital bed with a leg missing, after falling during a telemark competition. Along with that is a profile of publisher Craig Dostie. Penned by skilled writer Peter Kray, this is truly a good read and doesn’t dance over interesting points about Craig, such as him being a Republican functioning in a business that’s as liberal as a recycled hemp convention.

Backcountry skiing publisher Craig Dostie.
Craig Dostie in U-Notch Couloir. Pick a date based on the colors.

Indeed Dostie is an interesting character. He’s got strong opinions, and openly carries a major agenda about promoting backcountry skiing and “growing the sport,” frequently to the extent of rabidly sharing his version of the future (which, by the way, has frequently come true.) He’s received no small amount of ridicule for where he’s coming from, and at one time was even in the unenviable position of being an internet punching bag on web forums where it seemed people were trying to build up their community by tearing other people down.

Whether you like Dostie or not, you have to admit his magazine has had a significant and mostly positive influence on North American backcountry skiing. Like your free-pivot tele bindings? Dostie was the first industry person to push for those. Ever enjoyed a hut? Couloir pushed hut skiing for years, thus helping create the huge customer base that drives the amazing array of backcountry shelters we now enjoy. Ever use terms like “AT” skiing? Couloir originated that. And how about that old saying “ball of foot pressure is a figment of your sensation,” regarding the engineering of telemark bindings? Dostie originated that as well. And can you ever forget “earn your turns?” Yep, that’s a Dostism too.

Along the lines of “growing the sport,” another interesting thing about Dostie is that he’s a die hard telemarker, but realized early in the game that AT gear would be appropriate for many people who could enter the sport from being resort alpine skiers. Hence his relentless coverage of AT over the years that he roped me into assisting with (and sometimes going a bit overboard with, which interestingly enough didn’t seem to get edited out, huh Craig?).

Just so you don’t think Craig and I are in the mutual back patting society, we’ve had our share of disagreements. But in the end it’s been fun to be friends for so many years and watch each other walk, run, and frequently stumble through the publishing world. Thus, I enjoyed Peter Kray’s profile, and I’m betting you will as well.


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11 Responses to “Couloir Magazine — Who is Craig Dostie?”

  1. Terry March 13th, 2007 9:51 am

    Until reading your column just now, Lou, I didn’t realize the extent of all that Dostie has done for BC skiing.

    I met Craig last year at Bear Valley’s Telefest and I really like him. Dostie is quite a character! He has hung in there since backcountry skiing was a fledgling sport compared to what it is now. That backcountry hut guide that Couloir put out was truly outstanding, plus the level of gear reviews and other info that Couloir has online – quite amazing.

    Things have certainly come a long way! Thanks, Lou!

  2. Sky March 13th, 2007 1:09 pm

    Great post, Lou. I really like this bit:

    The worst thing about P&E (aside from resource use) is that once something is printed you can’t easily take it back.

    And the best thing about P&E is that once it’s printed you can’t easily take it back.

    I remember seeing Couloir at a ski shop in the greater Portland area umpteen years ago, when it was a far cry from what it is now. As a teenager with only resort skiing experience, it grabbed my attention immediately.

  3. Tim Carroll March 13th, 2007 1:46 pm

    Nice story, Lou.

    One thing I wonder about, though.

    What is the point of “growing the sport” or “growing the community” of backcountry skiing?

    I realize that in America, the boosterism of “growth” is somehow considered a virtue, but I wonder how such “growth” really shakes out in practice.

    I don’t see what is to be gained by “growing” anything except trees where they’ve been clearcut. But I guess that’s because I’m a dirty stinking hippie who grew up accepting the “growth is always good” mantra but found its practice to be different from its mantra.

  4. Lou March 13th, 2007 4:43 pm

    Hi Tim, there seems to be two schools of thought on that and both are very legit in my opinion.

    One group (myself, Dostie, others) likes the idea of more people in the sport first and foremost because we love it and like to share it, but also because we see benefits in increased participation such as better gear, lobby for land use issues, more partners to go with, etc. Those of us in business also like to see increased numbers because it helps grow our business, but that’s not the primary motivation. To be in the business of backcountry skiing usually means a financial sacrifice, so any increase in numbers only bandages the wound, rather than generating vast motivating sums of cash for publishers and such.

    And of course there is the other side who feel growth is not necessary and even destructive. Or are simply ambivalent (as in, who cares?).

    Does that answer your question?

  5. Matt Kinney March 13th, 2007 9:19 pm

    Looks like Ramer poles ..84-86..ish. Knee pads borrowed from a carpet layer.

    Dostie best is yet to come..

  6. Markus the worldsportler April 18th, 2008 7:40 pm

    Very nice story, I am a amateur “sportman” and just wanted to say that I really like when I find something “healthy” on the net! Keep the sport alive and good work too!

  7. Bryce "Dudeman" Wilson March 3rd, 2010 11:58 am

    As a former employee and gear tester for Craig he’s an inspiring person to work for. Even more inspiring to ski or ride with. I’ll never forget topping out on a bluebird spring Shasta ski trip with Craig and a former editor at large Ben. reat trip fresh corn/powder turns absolute butter. The recycled pasta water for coffee water totally ripped:)LOL Craig a big howdey wherever you are. I look forward to teaching my wife some of the backcountry tips/tricks you instilled upon me. God Bless

  8. Lou March 3rd, 2010 12:37 pm

    Hey Bryce, thanks for dropping by!

  9. Mike Selby August 23rd, 2012 4:36 pm

    Greetings Lou,

    Thanks for your help last spring when my 11 year old son, Noa and I flew over to enjoy the steep and deep of Chamonix, La Grave, Murren and Zermatt. Our three weeks were not nearly enough to soak in the Alps. Anyway, enjoyed your insider info and such.

    I have now been crowned with the responsibility of the North American Sales Director for 7tm. Can you please send me your media kit for advertising. We want to get the only Step-In DIN releasable tele binding back in the consciousness of North American tele skiers. Thanks!

  10. Lou Dawson August 23rd, 2012 5:09 pm


  11. Bobby D August 28th, 2014 4:55 pm

    Greetings Lou,

    Great piece on Dostie.

    As a former member of the Sierra Chute Corps back in the day of the 1 page rag, I have been blessed by Craig’s instructive and never give up attitude. Back to Yoyo skiing I held little fear on the downhill race course after a few near misses in the chutes with ol Dostie!

    From claiming 1st descents on many chutes to doing what’s unthinkable for the Sierra Club by taking down a tree endangering the hut down on mt. baldy in so cal Craig’s logic is rock solid and approach to reduce government always a welcome vibe

    All the best Lou and Craig

    Bobby D

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