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REVIEW: The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide, by Ben Werner

By Jimmy Lewis Contributor

Just before Christmas I sauntered into Northern Lights, my favorite backcountry ski shop in Bozeman, to see what new goodies adorned the racks and walls. When it was time to pay for my daughter’s present, below the glass at the checkout counter I noticed The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide by Ben Werner (2011 WS Publishing). Immediately I was ready to buy a Christmas present for myself.

Because the gift-giving season was in swing, I held off and hoped for a surprise in my stocking. It never came. A day later, I was back in NL looking to buy the book, only to find it had sold out.

Now in its second printing, The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide has been a hit among locals wishing to learn more about how to access the myriad backcountry ski options in the area—and with good reason. I’ve been unable to put my copy down, and every free minute during the workday has been spent reading up on potential ski tours around the region.

As someone relatively new to backcountry skiing, Werner’s book has helped me to realize how many exciting backcountry ski tours there are in the vicinity of Big Sky and Bozeman for the newcomer to explore.

Werner includes 25 routes in six local mountain ranges: the Greater Gallatins, Hyalite Canyon, the Madison Range, the Bridger Range, the Absaroka Range and the Beartooth Mountains. This handy little guidebook covers the spectrum, from epic, full-scale ski mountaineering tours like the Sphinx, to easily accessed, mellow terrain in Hyalite.

The format is simple and accessible. For each tour described, there’s an overview of the route; vital avalanche information; driving directions; statistics concerning elevation, vertical descent and length of approach; and GPS waypoints to assist in navigating the tour. Couple this information with a detailed aerial photograph of the area to be skied and a delineated map of the skin and ski route, and you have a guidebook that’s so easy to use even a caveman could do it.

At $39.95, the knowledge acquired from The Bozeman and Big Sky Backcountry Ski Guide doesn’t come cheaply, and I have to admit to some sticker-shock. However, when I thought of what else might cause me to spend $40.00—a dinner out, tank of gas, a single-day’s lift ticket—I realized I was OK with having shelled out a few bucks for the kind of information that can lead to so many fulfilling adventures and grateful to have a copy sitting in my console.

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