by Alex Lowe

photo: Carl Skoog
The phrase “skiing in the Wasatch” conjures up dramatically different images. To many people it signifies the swankest resort skiing outside of Val Gardena. To others it implies the best back-country powder bowls in the U.S.. My memories of skiing in the Wasatch all begin in the pitch dark for some reason. Over the course of the several winters I lived in Salt Lake City, a loose group of twisted individuals coalesced into what became informally known as the “dawn patrol.” This spontaneous group would convene at my house around three o’clock in the morning 2 or 3 times during the week. We’d usually decide upon a ski objective over coffee and muffins then head up one of the canyons and find ourselves on top of some peak, chute or avalanche gully at sunrise. The descents were sublime, but the most excruciatingly satisfying part of these outings was thundering in the front door at Black Diamond where Andrew and I both worked just as the clock struck eight. Never mind that we were still wearing ski boots, sweat drenched ski clothes and would be unable to remain awake past one in the afternoon. We’d made it to work on time having witnessed another sunrise, skied another chute, lived a little more life than the rest of humanity on those exalted mornings.
One such dark morning, engaged in muffled conversation around the kitchen table with my back to the living room door I saw Andrew look past me and grow deathly pale. Slowly turning around, knowing instantly the source of Andrew’s horror, there stood my wife Jennifer in her night gown wearing a look of withering fury that pierced the heart. As we scrambled for the door, grabbing up hats, gloves and goggles, Jennifer demanded with a wrathful acerbity “Is this normal!!?”
That remains a reasonable question to ask. The author of this guide describes X-rated activities with an honest, irreverent glee. This may bother some. That’s OK. Various people will pick this guide up and immediately identify with the spirit in which it was written, the unapologetic honestly with which it promotes activities that stem from a visceral adventure lust. Others will revile its very content, labeling it as misguided call to self destruction. No problem. The kind of skiing described appeals to the heart and defies rational justification. It can’t be explained, analyzed, taught or peddled to the hesitant or timid. Skiing 50–degree chutes above big cliffs simply makes no sense and all the rationalizing in the world won’t make it appear any more reasonable to those who simply don’t get the attraction.
This book does not describe cheap thrills. It describes thrills that are available to those who humbly love the hills and have made the substantial effort to explore their steep, scary, secret places with skill and respect for the seriousness this entails. Point ‘em down!

Alex Lowe
Bozeman, Montana

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