While Colorado is not having the best winter for skiing our big lines, spring usually rolls around with some sort of corn and isothermic snow season that allows at least a few weeks of good drops. Thus, while it might be a drag for author Fritz Sperry that he released his new guidebook during this thin winter — there is still time for Colorado skiers to study Sperry’s 290 page tome and make plans for the epic. Also, to be fair we do have some backcountry skiing in Colorado now, though you do have to be savvy to get it (which is where guidebooks help).
For curious skiers and riders outside Colorado, our Tenmile and Mosquito ranges are subsets of the Colorado Rockies that are closer to Denver than the mountains around Telluride, Aspen, and Crested Butte. Comprising a stunning variety of 14,000 and 13,000 foot peaks, skiing in the Tenmile and Mosquito was relatively undocumented prior to Sperry’s book (this author’s 14er guidebooks had some info, and other stuff was floating around the web and elsewhere.) Now, with about 65 routes shared with text and color photos, the mystery is done.
If there are any faults to ‘Making Turns,” the lengthy introduction is probably where I’d suggest a change. It could be shorter, thus making the book smaller or allowing room for more routes. Truly, nowadays one can find so much how-to information for backcountry skiing that expending nearly 25 pages on a ski mountaineering primer seems a bit much. This especially true of a book with a preponderance of advanced routes that should only be attempted by experts anyway. On the other hand, Sperry’s sections about wildlife and altitude issues unique to these ranges are useful for the newcomer, though they could be condensed.
Making Turns is organized along familiar lines. Routes are numbered with a two digit system, e.g., “1.1” is the first peak in the book, first route on that peak. Simple, and easy to add the numbers to maps and photos. All the trailheads (lots of them, which is good) are in a chapter of their own near the start of the book. Trailhead navigation is sometimes the main purpose of a guidebook, so not having to dig around in each chapter for parking information is a plus. Rather, arrive at your general area of attack then easily flip through the trailheads for specific logistical magic.
One thing that struck me as funny, but ultimately good, is the sheer number of photos in ‘Making Turns.’ The ease of digital photography and modern printing are no doubt to blame. The photos are so numerous (I lost count) you could call this a fault, as some of the ski and climbing shots are repetitive. But the sheer exuberance of these Colorado guys sharing their stash makes up for it. The whole thing reminds me of a Facebook page or some other sort of social media (or a blog?) where you’ll never have a shortage of images, especially hero shots. Plenty of the images are essential route photos, so it all works fine and many of the action shots do illustrate the terrain.
‘Making Turns’ is nothing less than awesome. It is exactly the kind of guidebook I’ve been wanting to see more of here in North America. Detailed for a smaller area; lots of color photos, good trailhead descriptions; no hesitation to suggest routes that range from easy tours to funky billy-goating. Highly recommended if you want to explore Colorado on skis, or just want another interesting guidebook for armchair travels.
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.