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Morten Lund, et al - The Ski Book

"The Oberland Glaciers on Ski" by Arnold Lunn

p. 34: In this article, Lunn recounts his January 1909 end-to-end crossing of the Bernese Oberland with F.F. Roget and Kandersteg guides. The writing reflects his love of mountains. A note on equipment: "Detachable sealskins had only just come into the market and I alone possessed them. The guides tied knotted string round their skis. My own more primitive method before I acquired sealskins was to dip the ski into a stream or water trough so that the running surface was covered with a thin film of ice which gave a grip on the ascent."

He also writes: "The highest form of skiing cannot, praise be to heaven, be tested competitively. Olympic medals are not and should not be awarded to ski mountaineers, for mountaineering is not a sport. It is a vocation."

"With Skis on Mt McKinley" by Erling Strom

p. 55: Erling Strom was born in 1897 in Norway, served in the King's Royal Guard, then immigrated to the U.S. to become resident ski pro at the Lake Placid Ski Club in 1927, the only fulltime paid instructor in the U.S. at that time. He pioneered cross-country ski trips in the Rockies and ran ski lodges at Stowe, Vermont and at Mt Assiniboine in British Columbia. This article describes the 1932 second ascent of Mt McKinley, using skis. The mountain had not been climbed since its first ascent by Archdeacon Stuck's party in 1913.

Although the climb was Strom's idea, Alfred Lindley became the main organizer and nominal leader. Other party members were Harry Liek, superintendent of McKinley Park, and Grant Pearson, a park ranger. Liek had little skiing experience and Pearson none at all, so Lindley and Strom agreed to "teach him on the way." During the descent, when all but Strom abandoned their skis, Pearson said, "I don't want them there things when I am not on the rope. They take me places I don't want to go."

Skis were a great advantage as they moved up the Muldrow Glacier. They were better than snowshoes for crossing crevasses and saved time returning to camp after scouting trips. They used skis to 11,000 feet and carried them higher, but used them little on the upper mountain. They successfully climbed both the north and south summits. During the descent they found the body of Theodore Koven who had frozen to death after his partner Allen Carpe fell to his death in a crevasse.

The author concludes: "It had been my hope that the trip would give a boost to cross-country skiing in America. That might have been the case had not what we call Alpine skiing, with its lifts and tow-ropes, come in with full force just at that time."

"Skiing the Steeps" by Peter Miller

p. 92: The author defines skiing the steeps as skiing down a slope that has a pitch of more than 45 degrees. He writes: "The break-through, like the four-minute mile, is 60 degrees." The roots of steep skiing go back to 1939, when Andre Tournier skied down the middle glacier of the Aiguille d'Argentiere near Chamonix. In 1940 Emile Allais and Etienne Livacic skied the north face of the Dome du Gouter on Mont Blanc. In 1946, Louis Lachenal and Maurice Lenoir skied the south face of the Col des Droites.

The forerunners of the modern European specialists were Gerhart Winter and Herbert Zacharias, who skied the 45-degree Couloir Pallavicini of the Grossglockner in 1961. Heini Holzer, the most famous of the early steep skiers, made numerous first descents of steep couloirs in the Dolomites and French and Swiss Alps. He was the first to ski the north face of the Piz Roseg in Switzerland.

Sylvain Saudan was one of the first to make a profession of steep skiing. He made first descents of the west face of the Eiger, from just below the summit of Mt McKinley, and other descents in Europe, South America and the Himalaya. He developed the "windshield wiper turn." Saudan's leading rival at the time of this writing is Patrick Vallencant, who made more than fifty descents of 45 degrees or more, mostly in the Chamonix area. In Peru, Vallencant claimed to have broken the 60-degree barrier by skiing Yerupaja in 1979. He developed the "pedal-jump turn." The author summarizes Vallencant's approach to steep skiing and offers romantic mystical passages from his book Ski Extreme, published in 1979.

In the U.S., the author discusses steep skiing at Tuckerman Ravine and Jackson Hole.

"The Norse Started It All" by Jakob Vaage

p. 194: Recreational skiing began in Norway in the late 1700s. By 1776, the Norwegians had 1,500 ski troops under arms and had written the world's first ski book (in 1733, by a Norwegian ski troop commander). In 1779 the book Geographie noted that "even along the coast of Norway, where there is no practical need for them, skis are used for fun." By 1800, the two main forms of Nordic skiing had been established: jumping and cross-country.

The author traces Jon Tostensen, later known as Snowshoe Thompson, from the Telemark region to Fox River, Illinois, and then to California. He marks the first ski tours by Norwegians in the U.S. and in central Europe as occurring in 1841 and 1853, respectively. During the 1840s, skiing events in Norway began to be held without military events. Racing in the 1840s resembled a freestyle contest of today, with a premium on inventiveness, skill and finesse.

In the 1840s, Sondre Norheim was the best skier in Telemark. The author describes the stiffer binding developed by Norheim that enabled him to turn consistently. In 1868, Norheim came to the annual Christiania touring-jumping meet and swept the field, even though at 42 he was twenty years older than most other competitors. Contestants had never before seen a controlled turn. Norheim developed the "Telemark" and "Christiania" turns, named later, which the author describes. The christiania performed by Norheim was what we would today call a "scissors christie" [or "open christie"]. In 1870, Norheim invented the modern ski with sidecut.

The author writes that the second one hundred years of skiing has been an extension of the first. Modern bindings, skis, racing turns, wedeln and freestyle are all extensions of principles pioneered by Norheim.

"A Way of Life" by C. Lester Walker

p. 199: A profile of Hannes Schneider, describing his youth, learning to ski, early races, the start of his ski school, instruction of soldiers during World War I, and eventual immigration to the U.S. The article describes Schnieder's disciplined, almost militaristic, teaching style.

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Last Updated: Fri Aug 12 21:12:00 PDT 2005