I guess it’s still serious-time. Digging through old writing today, this resurfaced, the story of a day when only luck separated us from tragedy.


The scariest events I’ve seen or experienced on snowy mountains have been on shallow-angle knife-hard snow in early season. This was the scariest. Please learn from it.


Apologies for few updates, I’m finishing my Ph.D. thesis.

Gear thoughts from recent months: Microspikes are good, well made, grip well; BD Traverse poles (older model) are heavier, fold nicely, like ‘em; BD Ion headlamp requires instruction-reading to install battery, is light, not super bright; 2014 BD Spot headlamp is bright, touch function is ~okay.

Skiing is good.

Allen & Mike’s Avalanche Book

We picked this book up at Powell’s in the autumn. I think my exclamation upon seeing it on the shelf was “No way! Allen and Mike have made an avalanche book!”


For those not familiar with Allen O’Bannon and Mike Clelland’s telemark and backcountry ski books, they’re informative and well-informed hand-illustrated guides to techniques and skills of use to everyone. All heartily recommended. This new book is up to date and down to earth. Snow science is described in functional detail, and the realities of avalanche terrain are shown in practical and visual detail. As with William Nealy’s “Kayak”, didactic cartoon diagrams can triumph over prose and photos.

For years, my singular recommendation for an introductory avalanche text has been Bruce Tremper’s “Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain”. The quality of that text is timeless; it has a new companion. For new skiers without a scientific bent, or for younger backcountry travelers, “Avalanche Book” may be the more-effective book. A backcountry travel course with which I’m affiliated has chosen to try Allen and Mike’s book this year as the course avy text.

Another holiday gift recommendation from MeasuredMass. A look inside follows…

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The Snowflake (Libbrecht, Rasmussen)

A foray past the technical wing of Powell’s Books turned up a bunch of fun reading. Among them is this informative book on snowflakes.

IMG_0641Written by a physicist who developed a specialty in snowflake formation, and beautifully photographed. It’s a broad treatise on snow that’s accessible to everyone, from kids to graduate-level physicists. If you need a snow-focused holiday gift for someone who already has too many skis and bindings, this might be it.

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