If you need proof that randonnee AT ski gear is popular, look no farther than the effort author Jean Vives made to write, produce and publish this excellent primer on what is done with such gear in the backcountry. But don’t let the name fool you. Even though Jean’s ski gear descriptions are limited to the rando side, anyone (telemarkers, snowboarders) who wants a complete guide to the basics of ski mountaineering and backcountry skiing will find this book useful, if not essential.
If you’re a well-rounded expert in backcountry skiing you won’t find much new in Jean’s book, but anyone up to an advanced intermediate level will find something to enhance their knowledge base. Examples: Navigation chapter with excellent compass and GPS how-to; expedition chapter provides complete overview — from photography to cooking; survival chapter full of facts that anyone should commit to memory. Thus, this is the perfect book for anyone entering backcountry skiing or who is still somewhat green — a boon to all the freshmen and sophomores in our rapidly expanding sport.
Because “Ski Randonnee” is self published, it is refreshingly current compared to publisher produced books that sometimes take years to work their way through a kludgy corporate system. Indeed, this book is one more nail in the coffin of publishing conglomerates who frequently ruin how-to projects. That said, the work would have benefited from a bit more editing, as typos, overly homey writing and other oversights sometimes crop up and could reduce this otherwise excellent book’s credibility. More, Jean’s frequent mentions of specific products and models will quickly achieve a dated feel. But if that’s the price for timely self publishing of a book this complete, it’s a small one to pay. Besides, since Jean controls the editing and printing, he can easily do a batch of edits for each printing and thus keep things freshened up. (Defunct link removed 2015.)
In all, an excellent effort. Congratulations to Jean Vives!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.