Powder Pioneers – Ski Stories from the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains

Powder Pioneers – Ski Stories from the Canadian Rockies and Columbia Mountains

By Chic Scott, Rocky Mountain Books, 240 pages, $29.95

Author Chic Scott is well known for his backcountry skiing guide books and his volume on the history of Canadian mountaineering. Now he has compiled the only book dedicated to the people and stories that outline the development of skiing in the Rocky and Columbia Mountains in all its aspects.

This book goes into detail about the skiing pioneers, who were Scandinavian immigrants who introduced the use of skis, initially for practical purposes, and later for sport. Of particular relevance is the chapter on the ski jumping events on Mount Revelstoke, with vignettes dedicated to local heroes Nels Nelsen, Bob Lymburne, and Isabel Coursier.

The book also includes the how and where the many facets of skiing— cross-county skiing, lift serviced skiing, racing, heli-skiing, ski guiding, avalanche science, mountain rescue, snowboarding, back country lodges— began and grew into what we experience today. These topics are illustrated throughout with many photographs, from the earliest photo of skiing, the Revelstoke Ski Club in 1891, to modern day.

The book’s strength lies with the author’s own area of expertise, long distance backcountry touring. As a member of the small team of skiers who completed the first lengthy icefield traverses from Jasper to Lake Louise and from Mica Creek to Rogers Pass, Scott is eminently qualified to retell these journeys and the ski culture that motivated these epics by people whose accomplishments never made into mainstream media. My favourite is the story of Don Gardener, who in 1991 at the age 45, walked out the door of his Calgary home with his skis and a 10 kilogram pack and arrived at Squamish on the BC coast 28 days later. He travelled solo for 900 kilometres without a tent or stove, sleeping under trees and cooking on twig fires. Now that’s a ski trip!