It isn’t very often that you get a chance to hear an author speak in person. Hearing them talk about how a book came together and learning about the inspiration behind it is something that you won’t forget. As soon as we heard that the author of Backcountry Ski & Snowboard Routes California was going to speak at AlpenGlow Mountain Sports we KNEW we had to go.
Swinging the door open to the shop we’re welcomed by the staff. Our jaws immediately drop at all the items they sell in the store. From first aid kits to shovels to infinite clothing options it was less a shop and more of a backcountry outfitter. Quickly grabbing a beer we find our seats in the front to hear Jeremy talk. Starting up the evening is Don Triplat of the Sierra Avalanche Center. Hearing him talk it felt like the final tour of a rock n’ roll musician. He announced that this was his last year as Executive Director at Sierra Avalanche Center. With a glean in his eye and a big grin he shared some of his insights of his tenure. When he started in 2003 they sold individual tickets BY HAND to raise money. It was also here in this very store where they held their first events. Now in 2017 they’re back… returning to their roots. And with that he introduced Jeremy Benson.
From Stowe to Lake Tahoe – Skiing becomes the passion
Like any great backcountry enthusiast Jeremy exuded confidence but at the same time is still humble. A perfect combination to make sure you return home safe after an excursion into the mountains. Growing up in Connecticut he started ski racing at the age of 6. Like most people who are passionate about skiing in the East he ventured north to Vermont specifically Stowe. Living through the snowiest winter Stowe had received in years his thirst for bigger/better mountains had him move to Lake Tahoe in 2001.
Friends and past writers inspire adventure
Over time he transitioned from skiing at resorts to touring the Sierra Nevadas. While his friends showed him the ropes in the backcountry he immersed himself in legendary guide books written by authors like John Moynier, George Hurnchalla, and Nate Greenburg. These books inspired him to venture further into the unknown. It wasn’t just about the skiing but the opportunity to get out there and experience beautiful remote places.
Hobby became opportunity
It was never his intention to write professionally, but rather it was a hobby that he occasionally got paid to do it. The idea of authoring a guide back was the furthest thing from his mind. It wasn’t until 2013 when his phone rang at the tram line in Snowbird that it became a reality. The Mountaineers Publisher was in the middle of creating a series of books highlighting some of the greatest backcountry routes for each state. He wanted to know if Jeremy would be be interested in penning the California one. The opportunity was just too good to pass up and in the spring of 2013 he began the journey to write it.
Weather can sometimes be fickle
As some of you may remember the Lake Tahoe region had four horrendous winters. What should’ve only taken a winter had now become a multi-year project. Fortunately, after four bad winters the snow returned in a big way allowing him to finish the book.
Pushing a creature of habit to experience new worlds
Like most people you typically end up being a creature of habit. You ski the same runs because you’re comfortable, it’s easier to do, and most of all you know the snow will be good. Writing this compendium forced him to think outside the box and exposed him to so many more options that he didn’t know even existed. From Eureka Peak where the Sierra Long Board Races are held to Paralake Hut on the western side of the Sierras his eyes were truly opened to so many more possibilities. As he stepped down from the podium he left us with one last thought to absorb. The goal of his book wasn’t to just create another checklist, but rather spark us to explore and push ourselves outside of our normal routine. If you need a little help on finding your next journey we HIGHLY suggest picking up his book. You can pick a copy of it up at Alpenglow Mountain Sports or head to the Mountaineers website.