Bob's Backcountry Bookshelf

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Where to ski
  • Backcountry Skiing in California's High Sierra, by John Moynier: At last, the new edition! A guide to the Sierra's best ski-mountaineering routes, with an emphasis on challenging point-to-point multi-day tours. This new edition is a major overhaul, with some modified routes, and new peak descents added. If you're interested in some of the tours listed at this website, then you'll probably want to own this book.
  • 50 Classic Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Summits in California, by Paul Richins: The Burhenne book was a good start, but this guide to California ski peaks does a much more thorough job. A nice selection of peaks, from moderate to steep, accessable to remote, with detailed info on how to get to the top.
  • Marcus Libkind's guidebook series: Volume 1 (Lake Tahoe), Volume 2 (Carson Pass, Bear Valley, and Pinecrest), Volume 3 (Yosemite to Sequoia), and Volume 4 (East of the Sierra): For non-mountaineering Sierra ski day-tours on easy to moderate terrain, Libkind is the man.
  • Cross Country Skiing in Yosemite, by Tim Messick: A more thorough guide to Yosemite's backcountry ski touring than the more easy-touring oriented Libkind book. Also includes some Tuolumne Meadows area ski tours.
  • Wild Snow: 54 Classic Ski and Snowboard Descents of North America, by Louis Dawson: This book covers the history of backcountry skiing, and then goes on to describe some of the best backcountry skiing areas on the planet. Dawson has become somewhat infamous for his anti-wilderness views, but I can't deny that this book is a good resource.
  • The High Sierra : Peaks, Passes, and Trails, by R.J. Secor: This book is The Guide to (non-skiing) mountaineering on Sierra peaks. This book is an indispensable resource, particularly with respect to the various unofficial passes and cols that high ski tours take advantage of.
  • The Sierra High Route, by Steve Roper: This book is not about the trans-Sierra ski tour by the same name, but about off-trail hiking areas along the Sierra crest. In addition to being potentially useful for ski trip planning, Roper's extended intro about the history of exploration in the high country is worthwhile.
  • Sierra Spring Ski-Touring, by H.J. Burhenne: This short & sweet old guidebook of a couple dozen peak ski tours is no longer in print, but if you can find a copy, it's worth owning. Lots of cool photos of the ski routes and the author's knickers-clad Euro ski buddies.

Other good reads
  • Bone Games, by Rob Schultheis: Thought-provoking reading on the zen of physical exertion and backcountry epics. If you're a skier who thrives in adverse conditions, you'll feel this book resonate with some of your harshest experiences.
  • In the Land of White Death, by Valerian Albanov: Your ship's been stranded in drifting ice for two winters in the Arctic Sea, supplies are dwindling, it's spring 1914, and you have skis. What would you do?
  • Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains, by Jon Krakauer: A great read, perfect for those days when you're stuck in the tent.
  • Or, if you're stuck in a crevasse, there's always Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson: In addition to being an extraordinary story of survival, this book is beautifully written, with an amazing emotional depth to it. Essential mountaineering literature.
  • Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey: Cactus Ed's my main man (even though he didn't write much about his skiing). Everyone should read this classic about desert and wilderness at least twice. When you're done with that, read The Monkey Wrench Gang (skip the uninspired sequel "Hayduke Lives", by the way). Finally, if you're a hardcore Ed-head, I very highly recommend his collection of journals, Confessions of a Barbarian.
  • History of the Sierra Nevada, by Francis Farquhar: From Native Americans to gold miners to John Muir, an interesting story of the Range of Light.
  • Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, by Clarence King: Excellent adventures in the 1860s with wild man Clarence King and his buddies from the California Gelogical Survey. You'll never look at Mt. Tyndall the same way again.
  • Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson: This book has nothing to do with snow, but it's a wild sci-fi tale well worth reading. His "eco-thriller" Zodiac was fun too.
  • Downward Bound: Confessions of a Broken Down Climber, by Warren Harding: Eating, drinking, and farcing with the Batso-man (not the ex-president) in Yosemite Valley. This twisted book isn't just out of print, it's way out of print.

Technique and skills
Personal Fitness
Let's face it, if you want to be over the Sierra Crest, instead of over-the-hill, you gotta take fitness seriously.
  • The Ultimate Fit or Fat, by Covert Bailey: For no-nonsense info about the how and why of being fit, Covert Bailey just plain rules. Easy to read, easier to understand. This new edition includes new info about cross-training and muscle work. Get it, read it, live it!
  • The Courage to Start, by John Bingham: If you're needing some inspiration to get off your butt, the penguin guy has a book chock full of it.
  • Smart Running, by Hal Higdon: A wealth of info, in convenient Q&A format, from Hal the marathon man.
  • Sports Nutrition, by Monique Ryan: A well-researched fad-free guide to eating for performance. Easy to read, with a few awesome backcountry ski photos thrown in.
  • Stretching, by Bob Anderson: A good bunch of illustrated stretching routines (what's with the ski hat?)

Let's eddy out... Bob's Kayaking Bookshelf
  • Western Whitewater from the Rockies to the Pacific, by Cassady, Cross, and Calhoun: From the authors of the popular bible, California Whitewater, this thick volume has All The Stuff on western rivers. A must for serious kayakers and rafters.
  • Kayak, by William Nealy: A hilarious, yet highly informative, comic strip guidebook to whitewater technique and attitude. I also recommend Nealy's Mountian Bike book (he did a skiing book too, but it isn't good enough to recommend).
  • Adventure Kayaking, by Michael Jeneid: A great collection of interesting flatwater kayak tours, from the greater Bay Area to the Sierra Nevada (Mono Lake, Lake Tahoe).
  • A Guide to the Best Whitewater in the State of California, by Holbek and Stanley, Friends of the River Books: Sorry, you can't order this one, at least not from here. Look for the latest edition at better kayak shops. Not just a guidebook, it's full of hair-raising tales of whitewater radicalism.

Road tunes
  • So Many Roads, Grateful Dead: Of the dozens of Dead CDs on my shelf, this collection is the most essential. Plus, there's enough music here to get you from the Bay Area all the way to the East Side (though, once in Bishop, this fine classic might be more appropriate).

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