Dragons in the Snow: Avalanche Detectives and the Race to Beat Death in the Mountains

Edward Power. Mountaineers, $19.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-68051-296-0
Outdoor enthusiast Power brings a credible expertise to his scattered, intermittently effective debut, a mishmash of avalanche science and sports reportage. He tells the stories of a wide variety of people involved in backcountry winter sports, including skiers, snowboarders, equipment manufacturers, and, most centrally, avalanche forecaster Craig Gordon. In relating Gordon’s efforts to understand snowpack (the accumulated layers of snow in cold-weather regions), educate the public, and contend with both the immediate aftermath of avalanches and the looming threat of climate change, Power effectively demonstrates the complexity of dealing with avalanches. The frequent use of jargon—“powder fest,” “rooster tail turns”—and detailed descriptions of skiing equipment and films of high-risk ski stunts will likely be rough sledding for the uninitiated. However, such readers should appreciate Power’s visceral writing on avalanches, which includes fascinating details from people who have survived them and vivid descriptions of how they’re set in motion (“Once a cornice ruptures and falls to the face below, its weight frequently is the tripwire that sets off an avalanche with the power of a localized hurricane”). Written with the snow adventurer in mind, this may leave those who prefer more manicured runs, or staying inside by a roaring fireplace, in the cold. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 06/03/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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