The Future Is In Your Hands

In Deep

My common answer to “How’s business?” has evolved since we published our first issue of Backcountry Magazine in 2002. Then, when we were a staff of three and had just laid ourselves off in April to go back to banging nails, shooting weddings and waiting tables, it was something like, “We had a great season! Got to ski in Norway! The lineup looks incredible for next year!”

Lately, my response is some iteration of, “I live and work at that place where publishing and climate change come together!” It’s a hot spot. But, as I believe in the future of skiing, I believe in the storytelling only possible in our pages. I also believe in our ability to grow through challenge. It’s what the mountains have taught us.

While Backcountry was once the only outlet for that untracked experience, now there are seemingly infinite live streams, webisodes, forums and social media handles where we all can get a little fix. Some of it’s really good. But not all of it.

Starting last autumn, Backcountry’s Steep Issue (#117) launched our first “Contours” feature. It’s a deep dive into Aspen’s ski mountaineering legacy, and at nearly 10,000 words, Lucy Higgins’s piece does something no website, social media or video can touch. The story, and the accompanying essays, is nothing short of what print can and must become, what we must become: The journal of record for our sport.

We followed up Lucy’s piece with Wingwalkers, my story of touring and ski mountaineering in California’s Eastern Sierra in January’s Deep Winter Issue (#120). It was, without question, the biggest journalistic undertaking I’ve ever attempted, and I hope it holds up over time. Next year, there will be four such stories. And surrounding them will be more exhaustive, deeply researched and photographed features. Around those, fewer ads.

All skiing publications are challenged right now. Like you, manufacturers and marketers have infinite opportunities to get their word out. As for skiing magazines, some are making ends meet by shrinking their coverage or printing on cheaper paper. Others are charging manufacturers and tourism agencies for coverage and not disclosing these deals to their readers. Our answer will be different. We’re going deep. Increasingly, we’ll rely on only a small core of advertisers, much like our sister publication, Alpinist, does. And, like Alpinist, Backcountry will rely mostly on its readers for its success. Our Spring Issue, for instance, is $10, not $7. Our mission is to make it worth it.

Buying a subscription is the best way to show your support, so click here to subscribe now to experience what I’m talking about. The future of Backcountry Magazine is in your hands.

President and CEO
Height of Land Publications

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  1. I adored that Aspen mountaineering piece. The amount of research, the storytelling, the history… I grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley and reading that brought me back to my childhood of skiing the Elk Mountains. That is one issue I will keep in my library for years to come.

    I look forward to seeing more journalistic and long-form articles like in in future issues. Keep it up!

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