Backcountry Bibles

Two books teach you out-of-bounds skills.
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Backcountry Bibles



You could spend years learning hard lessons in the field or you can skip the suffering by doing a little research before heading into the backcountry. Free Skiing: How to Adapt to the Mountain (freeskiingthebook.com, $65), by Swedish ski mountaineer and guide Jimmy Odén, is an expansive text covering avalanche skills, first aid, ski mountaineering, and steep skiing. Odén, through 366 photo- and diagram-rich pages, teaches adventure-seeking skiers how to think like a guide. "I still remember all the questions I used to ask myself," Odén says. "Only now I have the knowledge and experience to provide the answers."



The second recent release, Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering (mountaineersbooks.org, $20) is more the backcountry textbook of the two. Over 10 chapters, authors Martin Volken, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler of Washington State's Pro Guiding Service cover everything from group dynamics to glacier anatomy and ascending techniques. "This is an introductory book for alpine skiers crossing into backcountry skiing, as well as an advanced reference for experienced backcountry skiers" says Wheeler. "It's based on a body of proven knowledge from the international guiding community. We wanted to help disseminate that to the backcountry-skiing public."


- SKIING MAGAZINE, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008

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Skiing Magazine's 2008-09 Backcountry Gear Guide

Last March, our two dozen testers hammered laps on Crested Butte’s bony steeps for two days, filling out evaluation cards after each run. The results are listed here. “AT” means the gear was reviewed by alpine-touring skiers. “Tele” means tested by telemark skiers. Some skis were tested by both groups. Our goal: to help you find your perfect backcountry setup.

$435 We love the Marker Baron so much that we borrowed a fleet of them from Marker to mount on all of our backcountry test skis. When the Baron's predecessor, the DIN-16 Duke, debuted in 2007, it was the only alpine-touring binding that truly skied like a real alpine binding. Word spread, and shops literally could not keep it stocked. Marker released the Baron in 2008. It has the same alpine-style performance as the Duke—solid, secure, and confidence-inspiring—but is 150 grams lighter (thanks to the use of nylon instead of magnesium), and $60 less expensive. And with a DIN range of four through 12, it's more of an everyman's binding. If you're skiing the resort most of the time, but want touring capability for occasional side- and backcountry laps, you won't find a better binding.

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Whether you're going on a day-long tour or just heading out the gates, you need a binding that works as well going uphill as it does going down. Here is a collection of some of the best AT and telemark bindings out there.