Written in the Snows is a comprehensive history of skiing—mainly of ski mountaineering—in the Northwest. Well-researched and sustained by a gripping narrative, the book takes the reader on an exhilarating ride as the backcountry skiing reaches ever higher elevations and levels of difficulties to the point where even the best practitioners are forced to recognize their limits.
Surmounted by Mt. Rainier, the high peaks of the Cascades trapped every drop of moisture brought by prevailing winds off the Gulf of Alaska. The profound snowfall was impassable in winter, until, in 1887, the Northern Pacific railroad crossed Stampede Pass. The Great Northern crossed Stevens Pass in 1893, and the Milwaukee Railroad crossed Snoqualmie Pass in 1909. Seattle-area skiers, rich with Scandinavian immigrants, quickly pioneered ski trails branching off rail lines, building small hotels and ski cabins in promising high meadows. In 1906, 151 women and men chartered The Mountaineers. The club has organized outings, winter and summer, ever since, and served as a locus for jumping tournaments, racing and exploratory expeditions.
Lowell Skoog, an ardent practitioner of high-altitude self-propelled skiing, brings dozens of key events to vivid life, going so far as to replicate, on his own and with friends, some of the pioneering routes and early races. He explains how skiing has been shaped by larger social trends, including immigration, the Great Depression, war, economic growth, conservation, and the media, and recounts the adventures of local characters like Milnor Roberts, Olga Bolstad, Hans Otto Giesse, Bill Maxwell, Gretchen Kunigk, Don Fraser and John Woodward.
There are excellent photo illustrations throughout and a useful appendix covering ski mountaineering highlights, plus a very useful glossary, valuable listings of references and resources, and a superb index.
As a skier, climber, writer, and photographer, Skoog has been a keen observer of Northwest mountaineering since the 1970s. He is the creator of the Alpenglow Gallery and founder of the Northwest Mountaineering Journal, websites that celebrate local mountain culture, and he was a key member of the team that launched the Washington State Ski and Snowboard Museum. Skoog is chairman of the Mountaineers History and Library Committee. He lives in Seattle.
This is the author's second ISHA Award. He won the
2010 ISHA Cyber Award