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I ll cut right to it. The new book, Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America, could be to ski
alpinists what a relic is to religious fanatics. Get this tome into your presence, and the 12 x 13 inch
coffee table compilation of mind blowing photos and well written text will have you rubbing your
hands over the cover in homage, and carrying it around cradled in your arms like something a
priest tasked you to bring out of an icon repository. Icon on the alter. I found the crampon
compatible votive candles at backcountry.com. Seriously, you will find this book to be life
changing. At first you might weep with frustration, since few of us will ever do more than a handful
of the selected routes. But after your grief subsides, you will bow in respect to what's been done in
North America, and find yourself spending hours, perhaps even days, going over the photos and
text. You might even quit your job. While I wouldn t use the word worship for my feelings about
Fifty Classics, (I reserve that for the big guy upstairs), the concept does apply. Take segid (respect
and homage). Once you crack this tome, you have to respect the effort it took authors Burrows,
Davenport and Newhard (BDN) to come up with a photography selection that is simply insane (50
photographers, no less!). Yes, the book does cover fifty ski descents and alpine ski traverses as
the title implies, but each mountain and route is documented with numerous photos that go beyond
anything you ve ever seen in a skiing book. Different angles, different light. Action shots.
Landscapes. Aerials. All processed with modern computerized technique by Photoshop master
Burrows. Randomly open to any page, and hope Obamacare covers pacemaker surgery as your
heart skips. I ll do it. Closing my eyes now. Bam, page 173, South Face of University Peak,
Wrangell St. Elias, Alaska. Seven thousand vertical feet of Alaskan fury. Only been skied once.
Might be the best line in the world. Or how about sebo (fear and reverence). Closing my eyes
again.... aha, page 121, Combatant Couloir on Mount Combatant, British Columbia. Read Mark
Synott s account of skiing, including an entrance that he downclimbed first because it was so
steep, then climbed back up and glissed after he realized it was possible. Put yourself in his place
as he self actualizes and substitutes steel edges for steel ice tools. Sebo. Which brings me to how
Fifty Classics is put together. Authors BDN give us introductions to each region, as well as the
occasional intro style text for a given route. But they turn the actual blow-by-blow descriptions (for
many but not all routes) over to sixteen contributors (and themselves, in the case of Davenport).
And well they should, as a number of routes in the book have only had one descent, so the only
way to get impressions of a trip down things like the North Face of Mount Robson would be to
interview the practitioners, or simply get it written in their own words. With skillful editing and
selection of contrib