Timeless Education: “Backcountry Skiing” by Volken, Schell, and Wheeler
When I started backcountry skiing before the war (the first Iraq war—I’m not that old), I naively thought the only preparation I needed was an avalanche course. One trip to the Selkirks where I struggled on telemark skis helped me understand that, while avalanche education is critical, there’s a lot more to learn about backcountry skiing.
Without leaving the confines of your Barcalounger, you can acquire critical skills and techniques through the sage advice of Martin Volken, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler in their book, “Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering,”
The book, though published in 2007, will be relevant for decades to come, and is packed with valuable knowledge about gear and equipment, navigation, uphill movement, transitions, ski mountaineering techniques, downhill skiing techniques, rescue techniques, and emergency preparedness. The book will not only help keep you safe out there in the elements, but also happy—which is, as far as we can tell, the point of it all.
After reading, get off your Barcalounger and take a ski touring course with Volken himself (he owns Pro Guiding Service in North Bend, Wash.) or choose another near you from the list below. Some will even customize a course to your specific requirements—just be sure to choose a certified AMGA or ACMG guide.
- Yamnuska Mountain Adventures Canmore, Alb.
- Summit Mountain Guides, Nelson, B.C.
- Extremely Canadian, Whistler, B.C.
- Revelstoke Backcountry Guides, Revelstoke, B.C.
- Pro Guiding Service, North Bend, Wash.
- Colorado Mountain School, Estes Park, Colo.
- Exum Guides, Wyoming
- Sawtooth Guides, Idaho
- Arc’teryx Backcountry Academy, Jackson Hole, WY
- Alpine Finishing School (women only), Revelstoke, B.C., (stay tuned for contributor Kim Beekman’s feature later this season)