Wasatch Tours: Volume 1 - An Introduction

By: Dave Hanscom & Alexis Kelner
Published by: Wasatch Tours Publishing
Paperback, 256 pages

Publication date: 1993
ISBN: 1-884744-02-8

Although not devoted exclusively to avalanche safety, the Mountain Hazards and Avalanche Safety chapters in Hanscomís and Kelnerís ski touring book present 98 pages of the clearest and simplest introduction to backcountry snow safety anywhere.

Unlike more scientific treatments of avalanches, Wasatch Tours Volume 1 takes a practical approach. Explaining specific hazards, the authors list those caused by weather or terrain, those man-made, and human factors. Avalanche factors include the history of the snowpack, terrain features such as steepness, anchors (trees or boulders), elevation, and sun and wind exposure.

Basic route finding is also introduced, as well as signs of avalanche danger, and avalanche safety equipment such as beacons, shovels, probes. A brief treatment of rescue tactics exposes you to actions you hope you never need to perform, but better have practiced. Other chapters detail equipment needed for ski touring (cross-country skiing), and to a lesser extent, snowshoeing.

For those planning to tour in the Wasatch, Wasatch Tours ends with 50 short descriptions of beginner-level ski tours. For those outside of Utah, ignore the bookís frequent mention of Utahís Wasatch Mountains, and read the book anyway.

Summary: We highly recommend Wasatch Touring Volume 1 for avalanche neophytes, or those who wonít spend the time for a more-lengthy treatise. It also makes a great gift for skiers, snowboarders, or snowshoers who seem oblivious to the dangers they face in their backcountry adventures.

Wasatch Tours Volume 1 may be ordered directly from Wasatch Tours Publishing, 1451 Moray Court, Park City, UT 84060. Include check or money order for $13.50, plus $3.00 for shipping and handling, and your return address.

Reviewed by Steve Mann

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