Backstory: Seasoning in Ski Boots

I eat my breakfast of oats quickly while standing up. At the same time, I make myself a to-do list: dishes; peach-ginger cake for dessert; roasted tomato soup for après; marinated pork for dinner; granola for tomorrow. As the cook at a Canadian ski lodge, I aim to make great food each day, but I […]

Backstory: Dawn Patrol

It’s 5:37 a.m., and I’m in a gas station. The woman behind the counter has tiny feet and an underbite. Small wrinkles fracture her shadowed face in ways only years of cheap tobacco and regret can form. I look into the copper stillness of her eyes while placing food on the scratched glass surface. Memories […]

Backstory: The Elegant Path

My eyes open, and it’s dark. I guess the time at 6 a.m., but it’s winter and hard to tell for sure. What I do know is that today is Saturday, and I’m here by myself in my mountain cabin on the edge of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. Most importantly, I know that today, I will go skiing.

Backstory: Backyard Backcountry

It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Crested Butte for so long that I can point to all the high peaks—Gothic, Axtel, Emmons and Whetstone—and say that I have been there. Same with most of the chutes, gullies, couloirs and bowls. But then the one spot I see right out the kitchen window every […]

Backstory: Winter Lost and Found

This winter I am going to ski the monster, the beast that created all those scary stories that skiers would tell when I was a kid. Tuckerman Ravine. Other skiers would brag of death-defying runs they survived down Tuckerman’s steeps. But despite always seeking steeper runs in my youth, I never got to cross it off of my list. So this season, I’m going to ski that boogieman.

Backstory: Adventurers Anonymous

I watched Maria and Bob pore over a map of the Icefields Parkway on the hostel wall at Lake Louise with some trepidation. They were committing the topography of the Rocky Mountains to “memory” and I was right to be nervous. Once they memorized the map off we went to the pub for a few […]

The Elegant Path: Behind the Backstory

To illustrate our monthly reader-submitted essay, “Backstory,” we send the selected story off to any number of freelance artists not fully knowing what we’ll get. “The piece was very esoteric,” contributing illustrator Jamie Givens writes on his Studio Peril blog about Todd Krankkala’s January 2014 essay. “[It] described the author’s feeling of flow as he […]

Backstory: A Snow Angel Named Liz

The date had been set for more than a year—our 22nd-annual gathering of the Tribe in Vail, Colo. Our plan was to skin northward, away from the piste-bound fashonistas into the rugged, untracked terrain of the Gore Range. Rousted from our day jobs as professional artists, construction workers, ranchers, engineers, attorneys and even a token politician, we arrived from bustling cities, paved suburbs and mountain retreats on both coasts.

Backstory: Dead Dog’s Tidings

The morning sun is a welcome presence, its first few rays shooting at me over the ridge to the east. I huddle against the mountain, trying to maximize my surface area for sunlight while somehow minimizing my exposure to the wind. The howling wind dies down for a moment and I revel in the sweet, […]

Backstory: The Dog

I didn’t want him. I wasn’t ready for him, either. I was a 25-year-old dirtbag living in a camper. It was early in the winter and, already, I was seeing the folly of my camper-living dream. I was trying to make it work with a girl, but living on the road and ski touring every […]