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Steve Barnett - The Best Ski Touring in America

Welcome to Ski Touring

p. 4: "The present time is one of great excitement among hard-core American ski mountaineers. Part of the reason is the continuing reverberation of the revival of the telemark turn and the attendant use of Nordic equipment and techniques for mountain travel. [...] The other half of the excitement in the ski-mountaineering community is the nature of the trips that are now being explored. Telemark or not, there have been many glorious new routes done in the last decade. [... These trips] all combine boldness, mountain grandeur, endurance, and commitment. No wonder many skiers think this is a Golden Age for ski mountaineering in North America."

p. 5: "The prototypical American trip is one where you shoulder a heavy pack, complete with sleeping bag, tent, and meals for many days, and forge your way through the empty white mountains. [...] It's been a bit difficult for me to resist writing about all the bold wilderness traverses now being done and leave enough space for the shorter trips. These long trips often seem to be the culminating ski adventures in any one region."

p. 6: The author discusses the makings of a classic ski tour, including maximum scenic value, maximum skiing value, safety, and access. Regarding safety, he writes: "Ski touring is not like climbing, where fear is part of the experience and where there's never any doubt where the danger lies." He concludes: "A classic route does more than just satisfy a list of someone's requirements; it has an internal resonance of its own, a bit of magic that makes skiing it a totally satisfying experience (p. 8)."

p. 17: "Most U.S. glaciers and most U.S. glacier skiers are found on the peaks of the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. [...] I have never even heard of a skier falling into a hidden crevasse in the Washington Cascades in the spring. A common procedure there is to rope up for the ascent and ski down unroped. It is just as common to leave the rope in the pack, keeping it available for emergencies."

p. 27: The author discusses the choice of Nordic versus Alpine equipment. He prefers Nordic, so his advice on equipment and technique is oriented toward that style.

Far West

p. 192: "There are very few glacial icecap tours that you can do in the lower 48 states. A summer ski ascent of Mt Olympus in Olympic National Park in Washington is the best of them. It combines skiing and scenic virtues with an extraordinary hike through the nation's lushest rain forest. Together, these features make skiing Mt Olympus one of the premier ski tours in the United States." The author describes this tour in detail.

p. 197: "The North Cascades are the most rugged, the most wild, and the most heavily glaciated mountains in the lower 48 states. [...] It's the only place in the lower 48 where real glacial traverses are possible, like those commonly done in the Alps. These are trips where you climb one glacier, cross a pass, ski down another glacier, and then climb up yet another one, and so on. Along the way you can climb and ski the great peaks from which the glaciers flow. [...] The classic glacial traverse in the North Cascades is the Ptarmigan Traverse." The author describes this traverse in detail and recalls his three attempts to ski it with Bill Nicolai and others (p. 198-99), the last one successful.

p. 201: "Only in the last few years have skiers started doing the Ptarmigan. Some of those who have done it have gone on and explored similar high traverses nearby. [...] Thus the pathfinding is almost complete for a ski route covering the entire glacial crest from the North Cascade Highway to south of Glacier Peak. We await our Orland Bartholomew."

p. 208: The author describes the Eureka Creek loop, a seven-day tour that he pioneered through the Pasayten Wilderness.

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Last Updated: Tue Aug 9 13:11:14 PDT 2005