Backcountry Quotes

Backcountry wisdom and wag of the ages. Everything from embarrassing words to forbidden knowledge, to eloquent. Find it here, and you decide what category the quotes fit. Updated frequently, please stop by once in a while and see what’s new. We’ll add the latest at the top.

“Live solidly in your challenge zone”
— Randall Udall

“The sensual caress of waist deep cold smoke… glory in skiing virgin snow, in being the first to mark the powder with the signature of their run.”
— Tim Cahill

“I want to solve a climbing problem in the mountains, not in the sporting goods store.”
— Reinhold Messner

“A surprising characteristic of corn snow is its abrasive quality”
— Introduction, Front Range Descents

“It’s a turn, not a religion.”
— Allan Bard

“We [climbers] demonstrate in the most stunning way of all — at the risk of our lives — that there is no limit to the effort man can demand of himself. This quality is the basis of all human achievement…it can never be proved enough. I consider that we climbers — that I — serve all humanity. We prove that there is no limit to what man can do.”– Walter Bonatti

“The Matterhorn is climbed for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost it is climbed because it is the Matterhorn.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“Had God not driven man from the Garden of Eden, the Sierra Club would have.”
— Anon

“I understand the only blasphemy — to willingly jeopardize my life, which I have done, and it sickens me…”
— John Long

“A high mountain ascent is firstand foremost a pretext for friendship.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“I find that agnostics also pray.”
— Greg Child, The Other Side of Luck

“The Mountains help to reawaken forgotten dreams.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“Suffering produces endurance,and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
— Bible, Romans 5:3-4

“Boyer (a telemarker) is hard to distinguish from the best alpine skiers.”
— Photographer Christian Pondella, Telemarktips.com.

“Climb above all with your head. Always measure what your want to do, against what your are capable of doing. Mountaineering is above all a matter of conscience.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“But how splendid is this intimate dialogue between man and the forces of nature!”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“The mountains are beautiful but they are not worth dying for.”
— Greg Child,The Other Side of Luck

“What is important is the man who is born in the course of the ascent.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, Between Heaven and Earth

“Real guides cannot be heroes. When somebody gets into trouble in the mountains, we go after him, take the necessary risks, and bring him down. Nothing else counts.”
— Rudolf Aemmer

“Rise early…One seldom regrets having made an early start, but one always regrets having set off too late; first for reasons of safety, the adage ‘itis later than you think’ is very true in the mountains, but also because of the strange beauty of the moment.”
— Gaston Rebuffat, On Snow and Rock

“The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.”
— Robert Benchley

“Are they from the circus?”
— Third-world local in Tuva (former Soviet Union) observing North Face clad adventure travelers

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If the facts don’t fit the theory,change the facts.”
— Albert Einstein

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
–Muriel Strode

“I have thousands of feet of film showing the same guy jumping off a different rock. and of different guys jumping off the same rock.”
— ski film pioneer Dick Barrymore, Breaking Even

“I used to have a wild time with three women until 5 a.m., but I am getting older. In the Olympic Village here, I will live it up with five women, but only until 3 a.m.”
— World Cup ski racing champion Alberto Tomba, on his training habits at winter Olympics

“Your children will ski as well as you do for one day in your life. The next day, they’ll be better.”
–Warren Miller

“I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.”
– Michael Jordan

“I am not the editor of a newspaper, and shall always try to do right and be good, so that God will not make me one.”
–Mark Twain

“You are one with your skis and nature. This is something that develops not only the body but the soul as well, and it has a deeper meaning for a people than most of us perceive.”
— Fridtjof Nansen

“The thing to be wished for, is not that the mountains should become easier, but that men should become wiser and stronger.”
–Edward Whymper

“If you don’t do it this year, you’ll be one year older when you do.”
–Warren Miller

“…Skiing is the best way in the world to waste time.”
— Glen Plake

“[Aspen] has been preserved like it’s been sprayed with hairspray and it won’t flow in the wind anymore.”
— Consultant describing Aspen, Colorado’s lack of a vibrant downtown spirit.

“It is way harder to do that sort of thing on telemark…”
— Ski film telemark star Steve Leeder begs to differ with those who claim telemarking is as easy as alpine skiing.

“How could I live without powder?”
— Dolores LaChapelle, from her book Deep Powder Snow.

“When I’m not skiing, I’m usually throwing gainers and spins off the roofs of houses into trees and bushes…my worst injury while skiing occurred last May when I shattered my heel…That was my first big injury since broke my back a few years ago. The lesson I learned was to be careful.”
— Jon McMurray, from Freeskier Magazine

“Ski alpinism and freeskiing are two very different things.”
— Stian Hagan, from Freeskier Magazine

“Noah’s Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals.”
— Anon

“Go back…go…back…gooooo…baaackk!”
Distant shout heard during Dick Barrymore ski film production above a hidden cliff, before 2-way radios became readily available. From Breaking Even, by Dick Barrymore.

“I don’t even work with clients if I don’t like them.”
— Swedish sports and fashion photographer Felix St. ClairRenard

He thinks snowmobiles are noisy and stinky, but realizes that “some people would say that about me, too.”
— Bob Athey, Wizard of the Wasatch

“Have you ever really hugged a ponderosa?”
— Michael Engelhard, Where the Rain Children Sleep.

“I hope it doesn’t happen again.”
— Seth Morrison, after surviving an avalanche.

“What should you do if you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?”
— Anon

“Visitors to Whistler Blackcomb can now venture into the backcountry without leaving the ski area boundary.”
– Internet report

“Telemark gear sales are three times that of randonnee, but randonnee is growing twice as fast.”
— Peter Metcalf, Black Diamond equipment, circa 2003

“Human power is its own end.”
— Karl Marx

“I do love my Dynafits…Sometimes at night I wake up in my gear closet heavily petting them as if they were my high school prom date.”
— Anon, web forum

“They just turned on the television, and you’re the entertainment of the day.”
— Wayne Failing, Adirondack guide

“Giving money and power to the government is like giving car keys and whiskey to teenage boys.”
— P.J. O’Rourke

“I have to say that telemark touring without a free pivot is STUPID.”
— Anon, Telemarktips.com web forums

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
— T.S. Eliot

“He who would travel happily must travel light.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Skiing is an evolution. What you like when you’re 10 is different than what you might enjoy when you’re 25, or what you might enjoy when you’re 55.”
— Chris Davenport

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination”
— Albert Einstein

“I’d rather be on top of a mountain thinking about God, than in a church thinking about the mountain.”
— Anon

“The tools are only as good as the carpenter.”
— Anon

He shattered his glass ere…
Only half the sands had run
yet, he holds the heights…
he holds the heights he won
— Geoffrey Winthrop Young

“A person should have wings to carry them where their dreams go, but sometimes a pair of skis makes a good substitute.”
— Hans Gmoser


  Your Comments

  • Mark W: As far as the Scarpa line goes, the Maestrale RS should be nearly as stiff ...
  • Matus: Skialper, I would say that the "lateral picture" without any explanation wo...
  • Skialper: @Matus - That's a problem. We were ready with a lot of technical drawings c...
  • Matus: Skialper, thank you for the great piece of reading. Q: why there are no...
  • Kristian1: Somekind of flex comparison/characteristics is much valued in a boot review...
  • SkiB: The 1324 gram shell seems heavy(ish) when compared to some recent competito...
  • Erik: These are great instructions for adjusting the Vipec. I just thought I'd p...
  • Louie 3: According to scarpa the fit on the new Maestrales is the same as the old. I...
  • Christian: Just lined up some similarly-lengthed skis with my 176 BMT 94s, and the 94s...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, the common method are plastic plugs sold specifically for the purpose. ...
  • Al: Thanks for the input. Asa there is more snow I'll try them out at the curre...
  • Ranger: Not one mention of flex character when skiing. Not a boot review....
  • Ed: Great review - I bought these boots in 2010 and love them. I've now worn th...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Al, it's of course interesting to compare skis, but nearly worthless in de...
  • Al: Interesting. Lined up other skis and some were more forward than the bmts. ...
  • scottyb: I did this mod to my clamps and it was easy peasy Did not use any hot wate...
  • NIck: Tracker 3 vs Barryvox S?? Thoughts?...
  • See: For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed the same thing (with different skis) but ...
  • Bill Hoblitzell: @ Travis, Scarpa has had the practice in the past of breaking their shells ...
  • Al: Hi- I picked up some bmt 94s, 176. Mounted them on the line. Waxing them up...
  • Don Gisselbeck: Clamp a needle-nosed vicegrip in a vice, hook it behind the nylock nut and ...
  • Dabe: shout out to dynafit ultralock and old sportiva spitfire on the no icing fr...
  • GOB: Thanks, Lou. I haven't heard a clear answer, but I imagine they are saying ...
  • Lou Dawson 2: One thing to remember about external lean locks is in some situations they'...
  • Lou Dawson 2: We pretty much gave up on the "non glues" for backcountry, still use them o...
  • Lou Dawson 2: Hi GOB, I used the Kingpins combined with Atomic Backland for many days of ...
  • Andy: Sean, From Off-Piste, we're sorry you were not satisfied with the new boo...
  • Lou Dawson 2: I'd imagine so! Sounds like you need to follow refill steps exactly, you'r...
  • A: Hi Lou, Dragging up an old thread but it seemed the best place for this q...
  • Galina Fedorova: I am trying to fill it, but the air is coming out, while pumping. Am I miss...

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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.

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