Wild Snow — The Book

Wild Snow
A Historical Guide to North American Ski and Snowboard Mountaineering

Cover of Wild Snow the ski touring history book.

Cover of Wild Snow the ski touring history book.

Wild Snow is Louis Dawson’s major work, a fastidiously researched book on the evolution of North American backcountry skiing and snowboarding. With more than 220 historic and contemporary photographs, as well as 10 nicely designed maps, the book doubles as a guide to 54 classic mountain ski and snowboard descents, from New Hampshire’s Mount Washington to Alaska’s Denali. Along the way, Dawson profiles such luminaries of wild snow as Bill Briggs, first to leave tracks down the Grand Teton, Jackrabbit Johannsen, who gracefully skied into his eleventh decade, and Chris Landry, the man who coined the definition of extreme skiing: “if you fall, you die.”

In Wild Snow you’ll find:
– Dozens of rare historical photographs, including the first skiers on Denali, Katahdin, and the Grand Teton. The author spent more than three years amassing this archive.
– Backcountry ski history for the whole North American continent.
– Guidebook style information for 54 classic descents. Plan our own exciting trip!
– Table of contents listing all 54 selected classic routes. Start your project now.
– Comprehensive index, useful for historical research.

Was printed in soft cover, hard cover and limited edition. Soft cover is actually the 2nd edition and recommended for any sort of research. Hard cover is enjoyable but has a few mistakes and typos that are corrected in the soft cover edition. Note, if shopping on Amazon take care to purchase the binding you intend, hardcover or soft.

As well as being the only chronicle of North American mountaineering ski touring, the route selection is a hit list intended for all levels of free-heel skiers, snowboarders, or alpine skiers.

A special signed/numbered hard-cover first edition is available. This edition includes an embossed cover, parchment signature page, and marking ribbon. GREAT FOR AN ELEGANT GIFT! (signed by author). To purchase the special edition, please contact author Lou Dawson using the contact option on this website. The special edition is $300.00 USD.

Foreword — Wild Snow

by the late Bela G. Vadasz — Alpine Skills International

When I was young, climbing and skiing were equally important to me. Both activities are more than just sports: they are ways of coming into intense and beautiful relationships with mountains, and that was what I wanted in my life. During this time I kept four books by my bed, books that I would return to again and again to refresh my dreams. … On many evenings I would pore over the stunning black and white photographs of the pioneers of North American alpinism and the mountains they loved, and I would read the stories of their great feats until I knew them by heart. As my eyes grew heavy I would begin to dream myself into those pictures and stories, and beyond, into the adventures that I hoped I would someday lead.

Wild Snow book cover.
Wild Snow book cover.

As I grew, it became more and more clear to me that ski alpinism was the best way to combine my interests and achieve what David Brower has called “mountain blend.” I also came to realize that by studying and respecting the history of alpinism, I could better understand where I was and where I was going. In fact, this historical dimension added tremendous fulfillment. … After all, that’s why we give places names: to associate them with stories that help us to understand our relation to them: Tuckerman Ravine, Pyramid Peak, the Sierra Crest.

When I first met Lou Dawson, we instantly understood each other. We both loved ski mountaineering, and we shared a passion for the history of the magnificent places in which we had chosen to live our lives. To me, Lou is one of the few great all-American ski mountaineers. Not only is his experience both wide and deep, in the sense that he has climbed and skied extensively in all over North America, but he also has become the preeminent ski alpinist of his massive home range, the Colorado Rockies. He has also become one of its greatest champions and chroniclers, as Lou has the gift of describing the routes he has skied (and often pioneered) in a way that respects both the mountains and their history. From the first, it was clear to me that the passion of “mountain blend” was ingrained in him too…

But in Wild Snow Lou does far more than write an outstanding guidebook, although it is that too. In this book Lou integrates his practical knowledge with years of historical study. He combines practical information on many of the greatest North American ski mountaineering routes with an unprecedented overview of the sport’s surprisingly rich history on this continent. Whether you are contemplating your first peak or have been pursuing the sport for years, this book will inspire, inform, and educate you about the great achievements of glisse alpinism in the United States and Canada…

Bela G. Vadasz – Alpine Skills International


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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's personal website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners.

All material on this website is copyrighted, the name Lou Dawson as used here for authorship and content creation is trademarked, permission required for reproduction (electronic or otherwise) and display on other websites. PLEASE SEE OUR COPYRIGHT and TRADEMARK INFORMATION.

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Ski Touring and mountaineering are dangerous. You may be killed or severely injured if you do any form of ski mountaineering, skimo randonnee and randonnée skiing. The information, news and opinion on this website is intended only as general information. Due to human error and passing time, the information, text and images contained within this website may be inaccurate, false, or out-of-date. By using, reading or viewing the information provided on this website, you agree to absolve the owners of LouDawson.com as well as content contributors of any liability for injuries or losses incurred while using such information. Furthermore, you agree to use any of this website's information, maps, photos, or binding mounting instructions templates at your own risk, and waive LouDawson.com owners and contributors of liability for use of said items for ski touring or any other use.