Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

Lito Tejada-Flores - Backcountry Skiing


p. 2: "Backcountry skiing isn't new, but it is changing. Hence this book. In 1972, Allen Steck and I wrote Wilderness Skiing (flores-1972) for the Sierra Club. We were talking about the very same sport, and it still doesn't matter whether you call it ski touring, wilderness skiing, cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering or, as I do here, backcountry skiing. [...] Our skis and the rest of our equipment have changed over the years; classic skiing techniques have evolved and been perfected, and new techniques have emerged. [...] This new synthesis of equipment and technique demanded a new handbook, and here it is. [...] One thing, however, hasn't changed: my conviction that there is no one right way to ski."

Chapter 1 - Ski Touring Options

p. 10: Regarding Nordic versus Alpine skiing styles, the author writes: "If you're not already a skier, my advice is learn Nordic, cross-country skiing first."

p. 16: Regarding the traditional relationship between Alpine and Nordic styles, the author writes: "But this generalization is no longer accurate. Improvements in Nordic equipment plus a veritable revolution in Nordic downhill technique (especially the rediscovery and refinement of the venerable Telemark turn) have made the Nordic style both practical and enjoyable for a lot of downhill skiing."

Chapter 2 - Nordic Paraphernalia

The author discusses skis, boots, bindings, poles, wax and waxing. On p. 44 is a diagram of the Zdarsky binding, circa 1896.

Chapter 4 - Expanding Nordic Horizons

p. 78: "A quiet revolution has taken place in Nordic skiing over the last five years or so--the growing awareness among serious cross-country skiers that their light, narrow boards, pin bindings and flexible boots really are effective tools for thrilling downhill skiing." The author discusses Nordic techniques including christies (basic, stem and parallel) and telemarks (stem, classic and refinements).

p. 96: Steve Barnett's Cross-Country Downhill was "the first serious discussion of advanced downhill turns on skinny skis." In the bibliography (p. 295), the author writes: "This book made a major contribution to the 'telemark renaissance.'"

p. 110: "Is backcountry skiing the pursuit of difficulty or delight? The answer is purely personal, but you should know when you're making the choice. Becoming too ardent a champion of one particular style of skis, skiing, or turning may well put you in the camp of hard-core fanatics who invest a certain technique with moral virtue just because it is difficult, and they have done it. [...] Skiing the backcountry offers all of us personal limits to overcome; but they should be your own, not someone else's."

p. 111: "Some friends of mine recently completed a major ski traverse in Alaska on the lightest of equipment, 47-mm light touring skis, the works. [...] But one of them confided to me that in such steep and glaciated terrain they would have had a much easier time of it on Alpine ski mountaineering equipment."

Chapter 5 - Stuff for the Steep

p. 115: "When Wilderness Skiing appeared in 1972, almost all the Alpine touring equipment we wrote about was makeshift adaptations of regular downhill gear. No more."

p. 118: "For the 1981 ski season, only four [models of plastic alpine touring] boots were imported to the U.S." The author recommends against using leather mountaineering boots.

p. 121: The author recommends against cable bindings like the classic Silvretta (due to unreliability) and heel-and-toe systems like the old Su-matic and Marker Rotomat TR (due to limited heel lift). He endorses the Ramer plate binding, which he first used "more than five years ago." Other current bindings are the Iser, Vinersa, and new Silvretta plate model.

Chapter 6 - Parallel Plus

p. 134: "The parallel turn is what Alpine ski technique is all about." The author discusses basic and advanced parallel turns, deep snow techniques for powder and "junk," and steep skiing techniques including the windshield wiper turn (p. 163), pedal-jump turn (p. 165), and self-arrest.

Chapter 7 - The Best of Both Worlds

p. 175: "I'd like to see the distinction between Nordic and Alpine skiing in the backcountry disappear altogether. I suspect that one of these days it will, but at the very least, it will require a whole new generation of touring tools, skis, boots, and bindings." The author describes a "backcountry fantasy" in which skiers employ a blend of techniques over widely varying terrain using a single set of adaptable gear. He discusses wax/no-wax alternatives and techniques that cross the boundary between Nordic and Alpine styles.

p. 182: The "two-pin" system under development by Paul Ramer features a hybrid boot that "snaps into a Ramer toe pivot by means of two metal spring bars built into its sole." (This design, which never reached the market, is similar in concept to the Dynafit Lite-Tech system which appeared in the U.S. in the early 1990s.)

Chapter 11 - Skiing the Back of the Beyond

p. 292: "Rather than focusing too closely on the question of skiing routes, or specific information for specific ski tours, we should come back to our original definition of backcountry skiing--skiing far from the beaten track. It doesn't take a packed slope, or a packed Nordic track, to destroy the appealing mystery of backcountry skiing: too much information can do it too. If every traverse and turn, every false step and landmark is memorized before you ski off into the forest, what's left?"

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2005 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Fri Aug 12 16:54:26 PDT 2005