With the upcoming winter in question, The Onward Issue addresses how we can continue moving forward through uncertainty. We take a deep dive into how the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting everything from ski films to the guiding industry to professional skiers' plans with interviews from the likes of IFMGA guide and board certified emergency physical Alan Oram, Freeride World Tour Champion Isaac Freeland and more. We also hear about a first descent 20 years in the making deep in the Sierra, how to make the most of poor weather conditions and how one nonprofit is including and advocating for Indigenous athlees. Plus, a look behind the scenes of Cody Townsend's The Fifty with Swedish ski filmmaker Bjarne Salén and our favorite helmets and goggles to keep your brain and eyes safe.
On the Cover: "I'll be the first to admit there was some dumb luck involved in capturing this image," says Andrew Chad. "But luck like this needs a solid foundation." Fortunately for Chad, that foundation was an above-average February snowpack in Jackson, Wyoming, atop a record-breaking January. On this particularly deep night, Chad convinced a few friends, including Corey Seemann, photographed, to skin up Snow King Resort at 11 p.m. with the promise of picking up the bar tab afterward. [Photo] Andrew Chad
THE ONWARD ISSUE
THE DEATH COULOIR
For two decades, photographer Christian Pondella had been eyeing an intimidating Y-shaped line on the northeast face of Mt. Morrison, above Mammoth Lakes, California, in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. When splitboarder Nick Russell reached out to Pondella for beta on the couloir last spring, his questions turned into a partnership. After several thwarted attempts, the duo achieved the longstanding goal of skiing, riding and photographing the iconic Death Couloir.
THE COVID-19 EFFECT
As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the ski community, too, has felt the loss. We've had to reframe what it means to be skiers in the time of Covid-19, from considering the virus's impacts on travel to how it's changed guiding, education, filming and search and rescue. While many answers remain unclear, we've gauged the temperature of those immersed in the sport, to better understand the state we're in and what the next turn may be.
THE FIFTY'S BJARNE SALÉN
Powder, stoke, spines—they're ski movie staples, but they don't fully show what goes into a successful day in the mountains. Swedish filmmaker Bjarne Salén is changing that. As he captures Cody Townsend's The Fifty, a project to ski all the lines in the heralded book 50 Classic Ski Descents of North America, Salén speaks up from behind the camera, giving insight into the role filmmakers play in skiing big lines and, in doing so, breaking down the imaginary fourth wall.
Marcus Caston's day in the sun.
Why is it that some of the best days involve long slogs, rainy skies and a few fights along the way? Plus: One couple's attempt to learn about their marriage on the skimo course.
THE SNOW HUNTERS
In January, filmmakers Chris Winters and Brian Hockenstein traveled to China's Altai Mountains to explore the origins of skiing. Then a global pandemic threatened to strand them in a remote village. Through it all, they learned lessons about living a simple and solitary life.
Helen Rennie pushed through the extreme weather of the Scottish Highlands, an ever-shrinking snowpack and a full-time teaching schedule to become the first person to ski on Scottish snow every month for 10 years straight.
WISDOM: DR. LIZ BURAKOWSKI
Splitboarder, climate scientist and professor Dr. Liz Burakowski shares how a love of winter recreation can morph into a passion for protecting the environment.
How to get your backcountry kicks while staying six feet apart.
Professional skier Colter Hinchliffe reflects on a day of powsurfing gone wrong.
Mosquito Creek, Colorado's long-abandoned North London Mill receives renovations that celebrate its storied past.
Connor Ryan reflects on his work and adventures with skier, NativesOutdoors founder and University of Arizona professor Dr. Len Necefer.
For over two and a half decades, Backcountry's kept a close pulse on skis, boots, bindings, splitboards and more.