Friday, November 10, 2006

BEST SKI BOOKS #3 The Call of the Mountains


This is a core backcountry book from 1953. It is written by Colin Wyatt and published by Beechurt Press in New York. I really love this book because everytime I pick up a recent book or issue of Powder Magazine I see all these "Firsts". Well the reality is that people of our ilk have been exploring good ski places since the sport of skiing began.
The chapters of this book blow me away, remember these guys had to be skiing pre-1953 and just after a major world war.

1.) The snows of Africa
2.) Crossing the High Atlas.
3.) Across Lapland to the North Cape.
4.) Albania
5.) Canadian Rockies
6.) Skiing the Volcanoes of Maor-land.
7.) The New Zealand Alps.
8.) The Alps.
9.) Australia

Certainly my buddies at Backcountry have heard of skiing or skied at most of these places. Albania is new to me, I am not really even sure where the country of Moari Land is but it looks to be part of Tasmania or perhaps the North Island of New Zealand. In any case the book has these striking black and white plates that show not only mountains I have never seen before but also mountains that will never look the same again. Mountains before global warming, before snowless warm spells and before disapearing glaciers. The chapter on skiing the High Atlas is also really striking. I have heard often that the skiing there is killer from Mike Hattrup as he guided there a few times. I had also heard that skiing in Iran was kick ass, well in either case skiing in the land of Isalm has to be fraught with some danger due to our recent exploits in Iraq so I dont see myself going there anytime soon so a bit of armchair skiing is ok with me and this book gives it to me. Check out the plate,that is the High Atlas hmmmmmmmmmm. Sorry my scan jobs are so bad, I have a cheesy scanner and this book is a huge oversized thing.
In keeping with the theme of the sport of backcountry though, I have to once again parrallel (no pun intended) this book with the last two. As this is all knee jerk on my part, I realize that this book should have gone first as it is earlier. It is a period when the sport of skiing was just that. Skiing. The gear is free healed, but nobody knows that yet. The idea of releasable bindings is in everbodys minds but the Hvam Saf-ski binding was just being invented in 1952 so the idea of fixing the heel was just staring to happen. So this book gives us a clear snap shot of backcountry skiing before the split comes, when the sport was singular and not fractured and factioned.
I found this book again in MN. I was in a used book store in Stillwater, MN when I saw four really eclectic older books on skiing. I looked at the front plate and realized that all of them were from the same person, a doctor in St. Paul. He had a killer library at one time and I like to imagine that he was from the same family of skiers that I am, only an early version and I hope that he had a great time on the snow and in the mountains before his books ended up in a used book store. In any case he would be happy to know that they are being coveted by another lover of the high alpine.

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