Contributor Dave Dornian saw it coming back in 2001—the bike-helmet-wearing, spandex-clad, skinny-ski toting explosion. Citing races like the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse and European events sanctioned by the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competition (ISMC), Dorian predicted a boom in ski-mountaineering racing. “The ISMC’s current five-year plan calls for an increasing number of continental and intercontinental races,” he wrote. “Meanwhile, in the North American backcountry, the though of organized competitions is about as foreign as raclette or glügwein.”
Twenty years ago, Larry Coats noted that the day had come when there was no longer a distinction between Nordic and Alpine skiing. And over the two decades since, a whole lot has happened with backcountry gear, from the boom and bust of telemark equipment to the splitboard explosion. Here’s how it all went down, as pulled from our pages.
Today, the Backcountry staff is putting the finishing touches on our 100th issue. This afternoon, our team will ship the magazine to the printer, capping off 20 years of Discovering The Snow Beyond, Adventure Beyond Boundaries, and The Untracked Experience. And in a couple weeks’ time, the mag will make its way into subscribers’ mailboxes across the country and world.
On the hunt for some Throwback Thursday fodder, editor Tyler Cohen took a trip down into the depths of Backcountry’s basement. Amid the dust bunnies, the third and fourth editions of le Chronicle du Couloir lay in wait. The issues, each just 15 pages long, represent the early days of backcountry skiing journalism.
Oh how the times have changed. Flipping through archived issues of Backcountry, I stumbled across an atrocious sight in the 2000 Gear Guide. What might have been innovative then now harks back to a simpler time, when Tuas were cutting edge and tele skiers were content to smoke their patchouli (or whatever).