Cover Story: November 1996

I was still in high school at the time in Eastern Washington and was completely obsessed with skiing. That cover really defined that area of steep skiing in Alaska and was something that I only dreamed about getting to experience someday. Little did I know at the time that two years later, I would move to Bellingham, Wash., and meet Carl, who became a mentor of mine, and Dean, who became one of my closest friends and mentors. After several seasons learning the ropes from Carl and Dean, my own photography started to take off and I scored my first cover, on the December 2003 issue.

Throwback Thursday: Ski Racing Takes Off

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.”

Ahead of the Curve: Two Decades of Backcountry Skiing Innovation

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.

Throwback Thursday: 100 Issues and Counting

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.

Throwback Thursday: The Free Heel

“There is no right or wrong in the ongoing philosophical war; the contemporary free-heel world is an eclectic brew, encompassing everyone from Nordic tourers to damn-the-torpedoes freeriders,” Chris Clark said in Issue 21 of the ’99-’00 binding market.

Throwback Thursday: The First BC Ski Mag

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.

Throwback Thursday: The Gear Guide Transformation

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).

Throwback Thursday: The Cover Evolution

In November Backcountry will celebrate its 20th birthday. The issues from the last two decades are lined up on my desk in descending order, and, I must admit, they’re taking up an awful lot of room. So in celebration of our approaching birthday, here’s a look at 20 years of Backcountry covers.

Throwback Thursday: Shell Shock

Eighteen years ago, a backcountry skier’s shell walked and talked a lot differently than its contemporary fellows. But one thing remains the same: waterproof breathability is still at the core of the outerwear conversation.

Throwback Thursday: The Mercedes of Splitboards

In 2001 Backcountry ran its first-ever review of splitboards, with the apt cover line, “Backcountry Bording: Dealing with the Uphill.” The review included the Burton Split and the Voilé Split Decision, but despite the exciting new technology, tester Jenny Ader cautioned consumers.