Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow
by Heather Hansman
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Pub Date 09 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 09 Dec 2021
Harlequin Trade Publishing, Hanover Square Press
*Winner of the International Ski Association's Ullr Book Award*
"A sparkling account."—Wall Street Journal
An electrifying adventure into the rich history of skiing and the modern heart of ski-bum culture, from one of America's most preeminent ski journalists
The story of skiing is, in many ways, the story of America itself. Blossoming from the Tenth Mountain Division in World War II, the sport took hold across the country, driven by adventurers seeking the rush of freedom that only cold mountain air could provide. As skiing gained in popularity, mom-and-pop backcountry hills gave way to groomed trails and eventually the megaresorts of today. Along the way, the pioneers and diehards—the ski bums—remained the beating heart of the scene.
Veteran ski journalist and former ski bum Heather Hansman takes readers on an exhilarating journey into the hidden history of American skiing, offering a glimpse into an underexplored subculture from the perspective of a true insider. Hopping from Vermont to Colorado, Montana to West Virginia, Hansman profiles the people who have built their lives around a cold-weather obsession. Along the way she reckons with skiing's problematic elements and investigates how the sport is evolving in the face of the existential threat of climate change.
“A riveting plunge into ski culture... [Powder Days] is as exhilarating as the act of skiing itself.”
—Publishers Weekly STARRED review
"Who are you meant to be? How will you spend your days? What, above all, matters to you? Now, more than ever, these are the questions we ask ourselves. Heather Hansman found her answers in the mountains—from the lift lines to the back bowls to the dive bars—and among her tribe of fall-line aces who’ll sacrifice much for first tracks. Powder Days is a love letter to the freedom seekers, the fun hogs, the dirt bags—the ones our culture hasn’t yet managed to tame. This is a timely, sharply observed, and beautifully written story of wildness and obsession."
—Susan Casey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean
“An enchantingly lyrical ode to the peculiar allure of the cold, the steep, the remote, the hard, the fast, and the fallen. I was never a ski bum, but this book makes me wish I had been.”
— Robert Moor, New York Times bestselling author of On Trails: An Exploration
"From the moment Heather Hansman first ducks a rope and escapes with a cadre of outlaws into the stark backcountry of the dirtbag dream, you know you are in the hands of a great writer and a great subject. In their pursuit of that moment of transcendence where snow meets speed, at the expense of almost everything else, ski bums are iconic American figures, and Powder Days brings them to life with the details and surprising insights that come from one who has led the life in all its grace and grunge. Whether you’ve spent your life off-piste or only thinking about it, Powder Days is a heartfelt plunge into an age-old question: How to keep your wildness alive in a world that wants you tame."
—Rowan Jacobsen, author of Fruitless Fall and Truffle Hound
"Powder Days is a bittersweet love letter to skiing, mountain towns, and the people that make them work. As the climate warms and the income gap widens, Heather Hansman is clear-eyed about the challenges and flaws of the ski industry. But she never loses sight of the magic."
—Eva Holland, author of Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear
"What a joyous and original book this is! I’m telling you, Powder Days reads with the free-and-easy momentum of a mid-week, late-morning ski run in cold clear air down a wide-open bump-run dusted with just enough fresh powder to feel light and loose under your skis. In fact, for anyone who has ever floated down any bright white snowy slope anywhere at all, and glided between green trees and into the lift line for yet another go—from those of us who have watched beaming young women and men working the lift itself and wondered about their mountain-town lives, to those who have lived the mountain-town dream—this is your book. Because Powder Days is one of those rare memoirs that feels like it was just waiting for the right writer to come along and write it. Heather Hansman is absolutely that writer: she’s told a great story, her book positively oozes hard-earned authenticity, and she has also found and let sing her own strong and unique literary voice."
—Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast
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