Wild Snow — The Book

Wild Snow
A Historical Guide to North American Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering

This is Louis Dawson’s major work, a fastidiously researched book on the evolution of North American backcountry skiing and snowboarding. With more than 220 historic and contemporary photographs, as well as 10 nicely designed maps, the book doubles as a guide to 54 classic mountain ski and snowboard descents, from New Hampshire’s Mount Washington to Alaska’s Denali. Along the way, Dawson profiles such luminaries of wild snow as Bill Briggs, first to leave tracks down the Grand Teton, Jackrabbit Johannsen, who gracefully skied into his eleventh decade, and Chris Landry, the man who coined the definition of extreme skiing: “if you fall, you die.”

In Wild Snow you’ll find:
– Dozens of rare historical photographs, including the first skiers on Denali, Katahdin, and the Grand Teton. The author spent more than three years amassing this archive.
– Backcountry ski history for the whole North American continent.
– Guidebook style information for 54 classic descents. Plan our own exciting trip!
– Table of contents listing all 54 selected classic routes. Start your project now.
– Comprehensive index, useful for historical research.

Available in soft cover, hard cover, or limited edition. Soft cover is actually the 2nd edition and recommended for any sort of research. Hard cover is enjoyable but has a few mistakes and typos that are corrected in the soft cover edition. Note, if shopping on Amazon take care to purchase the binding you intend, hardcover or soft.

As well as being the only chronicle of North American glisse alpinism, the route selection is a hit list intended for all levels of free-heel skiers, snowboarders, or alpine skiers.

A special signed/numbered hard-cover first edition is available. This edition includes an embossed cover, parchment signature page, and marking ribbon. GREAT FOR AN ELEGANT GIFT! (signed by author). To purchase the special edition, please contact author Lou Dawson using the contact option on this website. The special edition is $300.00 USD.

Foreword — Wild Snow

by Bela G. Vadasz — Alpine Skills International

When I was young, climbing and skiing were equally important to me. Both activities are more than just sports: they are ways of coming into intense and beautiful relationships with mountains, and that was what I wanted in my life. During this time I kept four books by my bed, books that I would return to again and again to refresh my dreams. … On many evenings I would pore over the stunning black and white photographs of the pioneers of North American alpinism and the mountains they loved, and I would read the stories of their great feats until I knew them by heart. As my eyes grew heavy I would begin to dream myself into those pictures and stories, and beyond, into the adventures that I hoped I would someday lead.

Wild Snow book cover.

Wild Snow book cover.

As I grew, it became more and more clear to me that ski alpinism was the best way to combine my interests and achieve what David Brower has called “mountain blend.” I also came to realize that by studying and respecting the history of alpinism, I could better understand where I was and where I was going. In fact, this historical dimension added tremendous fulfillment. … After all, that’s why we give places names: to associate them with stories that help us to understand our relation to them: Tuckerman Ravine, Pyramid Peak, the Sierra Crest.

When I first met Lou Dawson, we instantly understood each other. We both loved ski mountaineering, and we shared a passion for the history of the magnificent places in which we had chosen to live our lives. To me, Lou is one of the few great all-American ski mountaineers. Not only is his experience both wide and deep, in the sense that he has climbed and skied extensively in all over North America, but he also has become the preeminent ski alpinist of his massive home range, the Colorado Rockies. He has also become one of its greatest champions and chroniclers, as Lou has the gift of describing the routes he has skied (and often pioneered) in a way that respects both the mountains and their history. From the first, it was clear to me that the passion of “mountain blend” was ingrained in him too…

But in Wild Snow Lou does far more than write an outstanding guidebook, although it is that too. In this book Lou integrates his practical knowledge with years of historical study. He combines practical information on many of the greatest North American ski mountaineering routes with an unprecedented overview of the sport’s surprisingly rich history on this continent. Whether you are contemplating your first peak or have been pursuing the sport for years, this book will inspire, inform, and educate you about the great achievements of glisse alpinism in the United States and Canada…

Bela G. Vadasz – Alpine Skills International

  Your Comments

  • Matt Kinney: Excellent work. Not sure what your up to in AK but hopefully see you in Tho...
  • Alex: Thanks Charlie! The adventure-work balance is a challenge, but persistence ...
  • Charlie Hagedorn: Congratulations on the job! The academic market is a tough one, especially ...
  • Ponderosa: OK! Thanks for the reply!...
  • pockets: Beautiful pictures! Makes me excited to try out ski touring next season....
  • daniel: For the record: Zzero4 boots size 27 Marker Tour/Dynafit original Spe...
  • See: https://www.wildsnow.com/9303/ski-boot-cuff-pivot-wear-fix-dynafit/...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Easy there pardner... after you've calmed down, just smear some epoxy on th...
  • Ponderosa: Nothing? Really? No one's ever had a similar thing happen and needed to...
  • Selko: What Sarah said! I've using the F1 since early December 2016, mostly around...
  • Eric B: That put a smile on my face! I feel the same way about my Scarpa Maestrale...
  • darin: Best thing on the internet that I've read in a while....
  • See: Comfort is key....
  • See: Helicopters, satellites, etc., have changed how we approach outdoor activit...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Pushing the envelope of "reviews!"...
  • Ricardo H: I am just about to buy a pair of these boots from Telemark Pyrenees but not...
  • Ponderosa: Hey Guys, So i was just doing the end-of-season gear inspection and notice...
  • Rudi: I'm not sure if that was a review or a poem, but it sounds like those F1s a...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'm often the person with the repair kit, but it's minimal. Multi-use items...
  • See: Don’t get me wrong— I’ve paid for evacuation insurance more than once, and ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Actually, that's just about it. In other words, we don't carry sleeping bag...
  • See: What’s “eurostyle?” I hope not “go light and depend on helicopter.”...
  • Lisa Dawson: I hope Louie kept up the Dawson family tradition and made some hot buttered...
  • Leslie: I'm glad to hear the Asulkan is in good shape. What great conditions!...
  • Pete Anzalone: An additional observation about the C3 external lean lock mechanism ... it'...
  • Lou Dawson 2: It's a big 20, but for me my fave is around 30 liters, just because I like ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Thanks for the comments guys, I've been busy with website backend work, the...
  • swissiphic: I have some input regarding the fit of the Cosmos for less than 'normal' fe...
  • PQ: A couple of comments. I haven't skied with the 20L Voltair, but I've skied...
  • Mark W: If external lean locks are the coming wave, some of the current crop are ve...

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name WildSnow is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

Backcountry skiing is dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information and news on this website is intended only as general information. While the authors and editors of the information on this website make every effort to present useful information about ski mountaineering, due to human error the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of Wild Snow as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive Wild Snow owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.

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