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Powder Magazine, 1972-79

Powder, 1973

1973, p. 23: Lake, Roger, "Not so far from Christmas Shopping"

The days of downhill skiing's innocence are over, judging by this author's rant:
"I see a mountain of paraphernalia, gadgets, do-dads, conveniences, upholstery, trappings: impedimenta. Just plain crap. And then, looking more closely, I see that incredibly it is covered--I mean swarming--with people all shouting like Jesus-freaks about the purity and beauty they have found. It is a self-convincing tower to be sure--of babble. Thoughtless. Mindless. Blind. And it signifies that modern alpine skiing with all of its desperate competitions and appeals, its jejune advertising come-ons is a perfection of commercial and technological overkill. And as for its adherents: they may well be the biggest pack of phonies that ever stomped a sport to death. I know. I ran with the pack."
As an antidote, this inaugural issue celebrates powder skiing, which means "getting away from the crowd to a place where there are no lines, no lift towers, no snow fences, no bodies in the way. Just snow."

Powder, 1976

Spring 1976, p. 50: Hensley, Gene, "A Winter What?"

The author describes riding a Winterstick snowboard for the first time. "I couldn't stop thinking about the concept of surfing in snow," he writes. And later: "I felt as if I were on a wave that would not break, that would not let go for its worth." The article includes a photo of Dimitrije Milovich riding powder on Red Baldy in Wasatch National Forest.

Oct 1976, p. 73: Albrecht, Bob, "Alpine Touring--The Alternative Approach"

The author describes backcountry skiing in the Little Yoho Valley in the Canadian Rockies, an area he has visited almost every winter since 1964. He compares alpine touring to helicopter skiing and observes that climbing on skis is actually fun and enables you to absorb your surroundings in a way that helicopter skiing never could. "This is where alpine ski touring has it all over helicopter skiing. People go helicopter skiing all the time and never completely realize where they are," he writes.

"In the old days, everybody used soft leather boots and cable bindings. The cable bindings were made so that during the climb up, the heels would have more upward freedom and could be somewhat clamped down for the descent. A few years ago, like most alpine skiers, we started using plastic boots. When we went ski touring, we were reluctant to forego the control and comfort afforded by the high plastic boots. Fortunately, about the same time that the plastic boots evolved, a new breed of touring bindings were developed. Most of these were adaptations of first-rate downhill bindings such as the Gertsch and the Marker binding. These touring-adapted downhill bindings allowed much more freedom of vertical heel movement than the old cable bindings. New dual-purpose bindings such as those made by Ramer, Esser, Gertsch and Marker have opened the door to alpine ski touring even further with increased control, convenience and versatility." The author continues, "The timeless exhilaration of skiing good snow with close friends is the same now as always, but the general level of skiing ability has improved drastically with the advent of better equipment and more advanced techniques."

Dec 1976, p. 20: Burr, Eric, "Downhill Nordic"

This article is about technique, and the author discusses step turns, skated turns, snowplow turns, telemark turns and parallel turns and how to match these techniques to varying terrain and snow conditions on nordic skis. He describes completely metal-edged skis as new. He notes the efficiency of telemark turns in deep snow and writes: "The telemark turn has been frequently dismissed as of little use to modern skiing. However, I think the increasing prevalence of skis with little or even negative side camber is going to bring it back." This is the first of several articles in this issue about nordic trends and trendsetters.

Dec 1976, p. 25: McIntyre, Tina, "The Only Way to Fly"

According to the author, three choices are available for those who want to get away from the lifts. First is alpine touring gear, either regular ski boots or rigid mountaineering boots, alpine skis, skins and alpine touring bindings. Second is to use X-C mountaineering skis, mountain boots and a cable binding such as the Silvretta. The third choice, preferred by the author, is to use X-C skis and boots with pin bindings, the lighter the better. The choice of this equipment leads to trips where distance and gentle downhills are more attractive than vertical relief and steep descents. The author writes: "It's true that on downhill terrain X-C skis have a mind of their own. It's usually preferable to go where they want to take you rather than expecting alpine performance from them."

Dec 1976, p. 60: Ramer, Paul C., "Ramer Bindings"

Last spring, about fifty mountaineers used Ramer bindings on Mt McKinley, giving the bindings their first test by a large and expert group. The author feels that the Ramer is the only true alpine touring binding and that it more or less defined the category. Alpine touring combines ski mountaineering, ski touring and downhill skiing, and only the Ramer does all of them well. Thanks to its patented heel elevator, the Ramer enables extreme uphill skiing, on 30 to 45 degree slopes. The common problems of other alpine touring bindings are inadequate release for downhill skiing, no release in the touring position (leading to broken bindings), inadequate heel lift, fragile cables, too much weight, and no heel elevator.

Powder, 1977

Mar 1977, p. 68: Bensen, Joe, "La Ski Extreme: The Lunatic Fringe"

"'La ski extreme,' that's what the French call it. [...] Ski mountaineering has been with us for years; it predates lift skiing by several decades. But ski extreme is something different, something newer. We tend to equate ski mountaineering with alpine touring--traveling across mountains on skis, choosing the safest, most practical route. There's nothing practical about ski extreme; the raison d'etre of the sport is the thrill of the descent and the satisfaction of the accomplishment."

The author describes extreme skiing as "a fully emerged sport in the Alps." Sylvain Saudan and Yuichiro Miura are well known by the public as skiing daredevils. Less well known are Heini Holzer, a south Tyrolian "wall skier who specializes in 60 degree chutes," Serge Cachat-Rosset and the Vallencants, Patrick and Jose-Marie, who have been very active in the western Alps, skiing the north faces of the Grand Casse and Bellecote and the ultra-steep Couloir Couturier on the Aiguille Verte.

The author explains why a few long-time skiers in the U.S. have taken up extreme skiing. The article opens and closes by describing a skier (presumedly the author himself) descending the 50-degree access couloir below Mt Assiniboine in the Canadian Rockies.

Dec 1977, p. 56: Mulkey, Del, "Sylvain Saudan, 'Skier de L'Impossible'"

According to this article, Sylvain Saudan turned 42 in September, 1977. He has been "skiing where man has never set ski before" for ten years. He has worked full time at it, making his living through films and personal appearances. Last year he made 200 such appearances.

Saudan has made about a dozen first ski descents in the Alps, beginning with the Couloir Spencer in the Mont Blanc area in 1967. His other descents include the Gervasutti Couloir, the Eiger, the Grandes Jorasses, the southwest face of Mont Blanc, and a face on Mt McKinley in 1972 that had never been climbed before. On June 26, 1977, he made the first ski descent of Nun-Kun in the Himalaya of northern India. The article includes photos and a description of the Nun-Kun descent.

Powder, 1978

Feb 1978, p. 19: Burr, Eric, "A Naturalist's View of Development"

"Wilderness preservation started as a uniquely American idea at a time when population densities allowed virtually unrestricted use of public lands. [...] Then as over-population and ecology became household words, both lift skiing and wilderness recreation came up against their 'limits to growth.'" The North Cascades National Park master plan initially proposed huts in the park but conservationists objected. The author argues that huts, lifts, and similar facilities at the edge of wilderness would make such areas accessible year-round and would serve as a buffer for the wilderness core. Without edge facilities, permit-style wilderness management becomes necessary. This is already true in summer and if the ski touring boom continues it will become true in winter too. The author argues for a range of recreational opportunities and a gradual transition to more primitive experiences as one ventures farther into wilderness. "People will go where it's easy or fun to go. Designers who keep this in mind can use the carrot rather than the stick to develop better skiing, both alpine and nordic, and to minimize wilderness hassles."

Feb 1978, p. 74: Burr, Eric, "Nordic Ski Mountaineering"

The author was exposed to nordic ski mountaineering about ten years ago when, as a new snow ranger in the Olympics, he did a patrol to Seven Lakes Basin. His boss, the Northeast District Ranger, a former cross-country racer [Jack Hughes], used nordic skis and easily outpaced him. Burr converted to nordic during his Olympic tour of duty. Nordic ski mountaineering differs from the alpine variety primarily in the degree to which hard snow conditions can be skied. The author discusses current nordic equipment and selected techniques, including the "Gunnar," a telemark turn without lead change. The article includes a fine photo of Jack Hughes touring on nordic skis on Hurricane Ridge with Mt Olympus in the background and another of a skier on the ridge northeast of the lodge.

Feb 1978, p. 77: Barnett, Steve, "Afterthoughts"

"Nordic skis, boots, and downhill techniques are now available that permit high-quality downhill skiing on almost any combination of slope and snow condition." The author discusses equipment not available when Eric Burr wrote about nordic downhill in the December 1976 issue, including Trucker and Epoke skis, Suveren and Adidas racing boots, LOIPIS heel locators and skinny skins made by cutting a pair of Coll-tex stick-on skins lengthwise in half.

Feb 1978, p. 78: Barnett, Steve, "Touring Through the Drought"

The 1976-77 season was a snow drought with poor downhill skiing and, for most people, little good touring. "For a few skiers, however, it was the best ski year ever--a year of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (weather, road access, and snow stability were near perfect)," writes the author. "What allowed us to exploit the opportunity was our style of touring--ski-mountaineering on lightweight Nordic equipment." The author describes trips to Excelsior Pass, Cascade Pass and Devil's Park in the North Cascades, Bridger Bowl in Montana, and the Bugaboos and Selkirks in B.C. The Excelsior Pass trip introduced Bill Nicolai to telemark skiing. "The revelation that downhill skiing is not only possible on cross-country equipment, but is extremely enjoyable, ignites the imagination of this experienced mountain skier, and he is soon planning a host of deep wilderness ski trips to take advantage of the suddenly perceived possibilities."

Spring 1978, p. 45: Titensor, Allen, et al, "Alternative Planing Surfaces"

This article describes three variants on traditional skis, the Bahne Single [or mono] Ski, the Winterstick (a swallow-tail snowboard), and the Lynx by Sarver (105 cm skis without tails). The Winterstick is most interesting, since it must have been one of the earliest snowboards to be widely publicized. Dimitrije Milovich of Salt Lake City, Utah, designed the Winterstick.

Sep 1978, p. 19: Letter from Lou Dawson

"As for X-C downhill, I question its usefulness in a real mountaineering situation, such as a 40-pound pack and 2,000 vertical feet of 30- to 40-degree bottomless crud, things you're going to encounter if you really go ski mountaineering, which means skiing in the mountains, not just the valleys and passes between them. [...] If you're really skiing the mountain, at the most it's a toss up between alpine and X-C. And I don't think the telemark is the revelation that some are making it out to be."

Nov 1978, p. 26: Letter from Steve Barnett

"I agree that alpine skiers can certainly do some things that nordic skiers cannot, but skiing difficult snow at speeds adequate for touring is not one of them. [...] I think that the correct generalization is that each skier's success in handling the snow [is] proportional to their experience--regardless of the equipment they [are] using. [...] Alpine gear is the best tool for skiing fast and with abandon over all difficulties. That, however, is not what's called for in ski mountaineering. What's desired there is safety, low-speed maneuverability in all snow conditions and on all slopes, mechanical reliability, light weight, comfort and the maximum possible mobility."

Nov 1978, p. 32: Miller, Jim, "Winter Equalizer"

In 1975, guides of the White Pine Touring Center [including the author, presumedly] traversed the Uinta range from Colorado to Coalville, Utah. The trip took 22 days and the party never crossed a plowed road.

Powder, 1979

Nov 1979, p. 58: Carter, Tom and Allan Bard, "Free Skiing"

"I'm weary of all this X-C vs. Alpine b.s. Even within each 'camp' there are misunderstandings. Racers (both X-C and Alpine) just can't imagine how someone could enjoy the 'bunny' slopes or just touring, poking around in the woods. Tourers, feeling as if their wool knickers are more 'natural,' sneer at the color-coordinated, etc., etc. Who cares why, where or when you ski, or what you look like--let's ski! Who knows, we may even learn to learn from each other. [...] Skiing is skiing, and the tools you use and the place you choose is up to you."

Nov 1979, p. 92: Hinds, Chip, "Telemark, Get Set...Go!"

In 1976, Art Burrows organized the Kamikaze Cup, a race using cross-country skis and three-pin bindings at Copper Mountain. The race involved a Le Mans start and a 1500 foot descent with one control gate--the finish. This article describes this and other telemark races held in Colorado.

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