Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book is a work of pure genius. It is a fairly comprehensive overview of many of the skills necessary for ski touring, but the real value of this book is in the readability. Hilarious illustrations by Mike Clelland are accompanied by equally humorous text from Allen O’Bannon.
Even the most seasoned ski tourer will pick up some valuable new tips, with covered topics ranging from snow shelters to wax to basic skinning technique.
You can find the book at Amazon, but if you like supporting the guys who made this all happen, check it out over at Falcon Guides instead.
The Mountaineers organization has published countless valuable books for accessing the mountains, and this one should be high on the list of any beginner or intermediate ski tourer looking to take the next step.
Topics covered range from equipment to avalanche safety to skinning and skiing technique to mountaineering skills and ropework.
Martin Volken, Scott Schell, and Margaret Wheeler do a great job of making the information easily digestible, making this a useful book to keep on your shelf and reference throughout your backcountry ski career.
Bruce Tremper’s Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain has become the bible of avalanche safety.
Staying Alive covers the basics of weather, terrain selection, and even human factors, but also delves deeper into snow science and the why’s behind a lot of what professionals do in the backcountry. If you’re regularly traveling in avalanche terrain, or are looking to become a guide, patroller, or avalanche professional, this book is a must-read.
Those who are more casual ski tourers still stand to gain a lot from Staying Alive – it is nicely sectioned and indexed so you can use it to help debrief a day in the backcountry when a question about that layer you found or that sound you heard comes up.
Jill Fredston and Doug Fesler’s Snow Sense is the classic avalanche safety text. Now into it’s 5th Edition, the book remains as relevant as ever.
As the title suggests, Snow Sense mainly focuses on snow and terrain analysis – looking into weather, terrain evaluation, and elementary snow science.
This is not the most advanced book, but it provides a great grounding for anyone who is relatively new to the backcountry, especially since it is written in layman’s terms, which makes it accessible even to the newest of backcountry skiers. This is a particularly good read just before or after a level 1 avalanche course to cement your learning.
Sadly we’re not aware of where to get Snow Sense from the publishers, but you can purchase it on Amazon.
Fifty Classic Ski Descents was put together by Chris Davenport, Art Burrows, and Penn Newhard. It details fifty incredible ski lines in North America with just enough pictures, statistics, and write-up to get your heart pounding.
The book that inspired Cody Townsend’s The Fifty Project, this is the ultimate coffee table book for skiers and ski mountaineers. The only problem is that if you’re in North America, it probably includes a handful of lines in your zone, and you may become obsessed with some of them.
Get the Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America directly from the authors here.
Jeremy Jones has put down some of the gnarliest lines ever skied or snowboarded. In No Words for the Way Down, you get an insight into his thinking during six years of filming the Jeremy Jone’s Trilogy (Deeper, Further, and Higher).
Journal entries in the book include personal sketches and give an honest and authentic view into the mind of one of the greatest mountaineering snowboarders of his generation.
If you ask any mountaineer for a book recommendation to get into mountaineering, there’s a good chance they’ll give you The Freedom of the Hills. Much like Staying Alive is the bible of avalanche safety, this book from The Mountaineers is the bible of mountaineering. Though it doesn’t only include ski mountaineering, the skills one can learn from this tome (glacier travel, ropework, ice climbing, mountain weather, first aid, and more) are invaluable to any mountaineer of any discipline.
You don’t have to read the whole book cover to cover, but owning and regularly perusing relevant sections is pretty much a requirement for more serious ski mountaineering.
Yet another title from The Mountaineers, you can find it here.
Training for the Uphill Athlete by mountaineering legends Steve House, Scott Johnston, and the man himself, Kilian Jornet, is a manual for mountain athletes who really want to push their physical boundaries.
The book includes scientific theory, excerpts from backcountry skiers, trail runners, and mountaineers, as well as examples of how to apply the theory to your personal training.
If you want to push yourself on the uphill or enable yourself to get out on more remote and longer days, this is your guide.
Training for the Uphill Athlete is available from Patagonia.
Not too long ago you would’ve been hard pressed to find a well-produced ski documentary worth watching, but with the proliferation excellent skiers and filmers, the ski documentary genre has experienced some big growth in the last decade.
We’ve assembled this list of the top ski documentaries around so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the cream of the crop.
With his cat-like grace and creative POV videos, Candide Thovex has become undoubtedly the best skier of his generation (and likely of all time). But the man behind the GoPro has remained an enigma, shying away from the media.
In Few Words, we finally get an insight into the story behind this ski-machine, following Candide’s journey from his early days as a competition skier to the pinnacle of the skiing world.
Shane McConkey needs no introduction. McConkey celebrates the life of this pioneer of ski-BASE, freeskiing, and fat skis in a hilarious documentary that easily cements its place on this list.
Through all the thrill-seeking and silliness, what real shines through in McConkey is Shane’s unending passion for both skiing and life.
The full movie is well-worth the few dollars to stream. You can find it here.
Eric Hjorleifson (also known as Hoji) is another soft-spoken hardman who hides from the media spotlight but shreds with the best of them.
In Hoji, he gets the feature-length film attention that he deserves at long last. The documentary showcases his unique style of skiing, but also delves into his world as a ski- and boot-tinkerer and product designer for Dynafit.
This star studded movie traces the history of big mountain skiing through the careers of legends like Bill Briggs, Doug Coombs, and Glen Plake, and into the times of more modern heroes like Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Ingrid Backstrom, and Eric Pehota.
Streif breaks the mold of most ski films, steering clear of big mountain skiing, and focusing on downhill ski racing. The film follows Erik Guay, Aksel Lund Svindal, Max Franz and Hannes Reichelt as they prepare for the most infamous race in skiing – the Streif at Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuhel.
If you want an insight into the sport that begins the careers of most of our big mountain skiers, this is the movie for you.
Watch the full movie for free on Red Bull TV here.
Let’s be honest, no matter how much of a die-hard skier you are, sometimes you just don’t want to watch ski mountaineers taking themselves and the sport seriously. Luckily, Hot Dog brought comedy to the ski movie world and Shane McConkey (AKA Saucer Boy) kept it alive.
If you want to enjoy yourself watching some ripping skiers having a laugh, read on – here are some of the top hilarious ski movie comedies of all time.
Hot Dog… the Movie
Hot Dog was the comedy ski movie that started it all. This thing grossed $17 million, starred a Playboy playmate, and invented the “Chinese Downhill”. Enough said.
The film that defines the genre. Somehow, someone was convinced that it would be a good idea to let Scott and Robb Gaffney produce G.N.A.R., a film based on the game of G.N.A.R., founded by none other than the great Shane himself.
The movie degenerates into the hilarious mess that you might expect, with pro call outs, naked skiing, and pole whacking galore.
Every Squaw skier watches G.N.A.R. at least once a season, and everyone else should too – there’s no better way to get in touch with the fun side of skiing.
Ah Aspen Extreme. Cougars, powder 8s, and avalanches combined to convince literally tens of nascent ski bums to move out to Aspen and give the good life a try.
Sadly, the movie is not so ski bum friendly these days – it’s hidden behind a paywall, but you can watch it here.
With a horrific 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes but an 84% audience score, you know this is going to be a good one.
Watch Zach Galifianakis and crew stick it to the man in one of the classic movies of ski comedy.
You can watch Out Cold (after paying for it) here.
Gone are the days when backcountry skiers could only watch films of extreme skiers dropping out of helicopters.
With the burgeoning popularity of backcountry skiing, and the increasing prevalence of environmentalism, backcountry ski movies have become increasingly available and enjoyable.
Keep the stoke alive with this list of our favorite human-powered ski movies.
Zabardast follows a group of French phenoms including Leo Taillefer and Thomas Delfino (joined by American snowboarder Zac Mills), as they travel through Pakistan’s Karakoram range in search of the steep spines of Biacherahi Tower.
This ski film is styled as a travel journey, giving you insights into the minds of the skiers as they climb and ski impossibly steep lines in incredibly remote surroundings. The format of the movie allows you to really see what the skiers are thinking about as they stand atop these ski lines, so you’re exposed to everything going on, from missing loved ones to avalanche conditions.
Zabardast stands as one of the finest backcountry ski expedition movies out there.
The Jeremy Jones Series (Deeper, Further, Higher)
It may be a snowboard series, but anyone who appreciates human-powered big mountain skiing can have nothing but respect for Jeremy Jones and his epic backcountry adventures.
Produced by TGR, the series (Deeper, Further, and Higher) follows Jones as he embarks on increasingly serious expeditions, culminating in a ski descent of the previously never-ridden Shangri La spines at 21,400ft in Nepal.
You’ll have to pay to stream the series, but it’s well worth it! The links to Deeper, Further, and Higher have links to watch on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc.
The Fifty Project with Cody Townsend
Cody Townsend was catapulted into the spotlight after heli-skiing The Crack in MSP’s Days of My Youth. But after tiring of 80 foot airs and stomping straight-lines, he set off on a completely different trajectory.
The Fifty Project, which is still a work in progress, is not so much a ski movie as a series of short films, each documenting an attempt or descent of a line from Chris Davenport’s Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America – a list which includes some of the most hardcore ski mountaineering lines on the continent.
Cody keeps it real, jump-turning couloirs in terrible conditions, turning back on lines, and sharing his decision-making process as he goes. This is a must-watch backcountry ski movie for anyone who who has even the remotest interest in ski mountaineering.
We’ve embedded Cody’s playlist of currently released episodes above. Keep checking back for new episodes!
The Sky Piercer
Aoraki is the tallest peak in New Zealand and one of the toughest mountains in the world to find in skiable condition. The Sky Piercer documents Xavier De Le Rue, Sam Smoothy, Nadine Wallner and Fraser McDougall’s trip down under to try and ski the infamous mountain.
A multi-sport trip, this movie has a bit of everything – surfing, rock climbing, mountaineering, and, of course, backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
From the Road
A ski guide comes back from a huge injury to snake a heli op and bag human-powered first tracks on the line which ended his season – oh and the line itself was the result of a meteorite which hit the peak way back when. It doesn’t get any cooler than that, does it?
From the Road follows a team of athletes as they climb and ski some of the classic Chugach heli-ski lines from the road, but unfortunately doesn’t quite live up to how cool it should have been from that first paragraph.
This one is a little slow to get started, with a long team introduction and plenty of plugs for Dynafit. But once it gets started, it goes hard. From a gnarly fall on Dimond to a redemption ski of Meteorite (a line from the 50 Classics – see above) From the Road delivers some classic backcountry ski movie action.
Monumental is a movie unlike the others in this list, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service by highlighting the backcountry ski opportunities in five of the most popular National Parks.
With stops in Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, and Olympic National Park, Monumental showcases some of the most beautiful terrain in the States. A strong skier list including Andy Mahre, Lynsey Dyer, Griffin Post, Colter Hinchliffe, Kalen Thorien, and Greg Hill doesn’t hurt either.