The Best Skiing Books for Enthusiasts

The Best Skiing Books for Enthusiasts


The world’s wildest runs and most exciting mountains. The daredevil feats of extreme skiers. The history of the ski, skiing’s greatest adventures, the most unexpected places in the world to ski. Here are eight great books to get you stoked about skiing.

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    1. White Heat

    Extreme skiing

    You’ve got your hang-gliding, your bungee-jumping. You’ve got rock-climbing, cliff-diving, drag-racing. You’ve got tumbling over Niagara Falls in a reinforced barrel. OK, this last might be the craziest, but it’s also beyond rare—those barrel folk don’t come around too often. Extreme skiing, however? Extreme snowboarding? Death-defying feats happen all the time, around the world. Fifty-foot plunges, near-vertical inclines at the tops of mountains, crevasse and avalanche danger. Who are these risk-takers? What’s it like to do what they do? Wayne Johnson’s White Heat is your way into this world—its daredevils, its thrills, its lifestyle.


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    2. Climb to Conquer

    An elite brotherhood

    Conceived on a Vermont ski hill, the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division was extraordinary in a variety of ways: the athleticism of its troops; its snow, mountain, and cliff training; the postwar achievements in the American outdoor industry that marked the professional careers of some division members, including Nike cofounder Bill Bowerman. Peter Shelton’s vivid portrait of this elite brotherhood, supported by years of interviews, represents the definitive telling of one of the Greatest Generation’s greatest stories. It’s never more gripping than when chronicling the daring military operation that saw the 10th Mountain scale a 1,500-foot “unclimbable” cliff in the Italian Apennines in the dead of night, the first step in commencing battle with German troops in northern Italy.

    Source: US Government Archives

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    3. In Search of Powder

    Ski bum culture

    Onetime Lake Tahoe-area cub reporter and ski bum Jeremy Evans left a West Coast city, returned to the mountains, and immersed himself in the ski bum world once again. In Search of Powder takes us inside the lives of those who live to ski, journeying from Jackson Hole to Telluride, from Park City to California’s Mammoth Mountain. Evans draws indelible portraits of ski-bum free spirits, uncovering stories of both triumphs and disillusionment, while documenting the shrinking of the colorful ski bum subculture and the transformation of the West under pressures from real-estate realities, corporate mentalities, and shifting American values.


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    4. White Planet

    Ski 360!

    Leslie Anthony was there in the early ’90s when Alaska grabbed the attention of the ski world: Images of fearless skiers breaking new tracks in deep snow down the faces of steep-faced mountains captivated global audiences. But the thrill-seeking writer doesn’t stop with the Alaska action, taking White Planet readers on a high-octane journey around the world, stopping in destinations as farflung as Mexico, China, Lebanon, and India. Meet the skiers, dreamers, and developers who are introducing the sport to marvelous spots in unexpected parts of the world in both hemispheres.



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    5. Two Planks and a Passion

    History of the ski

    The ski has been around longer than the wheel. In Two Planks and a Passion, one of the leading authorities on polar expeditions goes back 20,000 years to skiing’s start, then continues forward in time, producing an epic work the Times Literary Supplement called “skiing’s definitive history for years to come.” With an unequalled grasp of skiing’s Scandinavian origins, Roland Huntford charts the importance of ski travel and transport over the course of human history, and even makes the dramatic claim that the outcome of World War II might have been decided by the ski.

    credit: shutterstock

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    6. The Story of Modern Skiing

    Who, what, where

    Ski culture grew explosively in North America during the second half of the 20th century. John Fry delivers the go-to account of how, why, and where this growth occurred, documenting every aspect of ski culture’s development, from the emergence of the mega-resort to advances in equipment, technique, and competition. Fry’s richly textured portrait is animated with stories sourced in his personal relationships with numerous ski-world trailblazers, including Jean-Claude Killy, Billy Kidd, Olympic medalists Phil and Steve Mahre, and plastic boot inventor Bob Lange. Along with sport variants such as free-style skiing, snowboarding, and extreme skiing, Fry also considers the environmental, economic, and cultural aspects of skiing’s growth.

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    7. The Edge of Never

    Legacy from tragedy

    Legendary extreme skier Trevor Petersen lost his life while skiing in Chamonix, France in February of 1996. Nearly a decade later, Petersen’s 15-year-old son Kye, a rising ski star in his own right, traveled to this same mountain in the French Alps to ski the slope that took his dad’s life. Joining him was author and filmmaker William Kerig, who chronicled every step of Kye’s emotional journey. In The Edge of Never, Kerig presents a moving, suspenseful story of a teen coming to terms with his father’s death. He does so by taking us inside the late Petersen’s world of big-mountain skiers, a group of whom welcomed Kye in Chamonix and introduced him to the terrain. Don’t miss this unforgettable portrait of those who live to ski the steepest, most difficult slopes.

    credit:  tantalus blog from paddy kaye

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    8. Fifty Places to Ski and Snowboard Before You Die

    Be transported

    The Chugach Mountains in Alaska. Rusutsu in Japan. Tuckerman’s Ravine in New Hampshire. Portillo in Chile. There are just a few of the extraordinary ski spots Chris Santella takes readers in a book that will help you fill out the ultimate skiing bucket list. Majestic settings, the wildest runs, remote helicopter and hike-access-only slopes, legendary local skiers, après-ski hotspots—it’s all here, bolstered by interviews with some of the world’s top schussers and snowboarders, including Tommy Moe, Greg Harms, and Jonny Moseley. Open any page and be transported to mountain grandeur.


     This article originally appeared on Zola Books.
Phil Hanrahan is the Director of Reviews for Zola Books and has more than two decades of experience in writing and publishing. Author of the sports book Life After Favre, Phil has taught writing at Marquette University, managed book publicity for Oxford University Press, ghostwritten a business book, edited manuscripts for literary agents, and published more than 40 book reviews and magazine articles. Media aide for a presidential aspirant during the 2004 election, he recently teamed with an Emmy-winning director to script a documentary film about a journey through the Canadian Arctic’s legendary Northwest Passage. Phil graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College, studied literature at Oxford, and holds an M.A. in English from Duke.


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