cover image Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow

Powder Days: Ski Bums, Ski Towns and the Future of Chasing Snow

Heather Hansman. Hanover Square, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-335-08111-7

Hansman (Down River), an environmental columnist for Outside magazine, takes readers on a riveting plunge into ski culture. After sharing reflections on her own years of “living the ‘dream’ ” of putting the “constant sense of chase” of skiing above all else in her 20s, Hansman delivers an entertaining ethnography of what constitutes a ski bum. She defines the lifestyle, describing how prioritizing skiing could lead to “no job, no relationship[s], no stability,” but paradoxically also foster “deep connections, community, joy.” She weaves in her own experiences, beginning in the “knobby mountains of New England,” where she learned to backcountry ski as a teenager and peaking in Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin, where, in college, she spent her days “hopped up on a mixture of adrenaline, secrets, and the thrill of breaking rules.” In addition to insightful chapters on the psychology and “heady rush” of skiing and the freedom it represents for so many of its participants, Hansman also tackles topics such as ski town economics and the ways climate change threatens to upend the industry (“Can we actually keep doing this if it gets worse?” she wonders). This is as exhilarating as the act of skiing itself. Agent: Zoe Sandler, ICM Partners. (Nov.)