LAKE LOUISE – For decades the Icefields Parkway has been the go to spot for backcountry skiers, however besides the few popular areas like Bow Summit and Crowfoot Glades, very few people ever venture off the broken ski track – until now.
By: Paul Clarke
Earlier this month Marcus Baranow released what is arguably the most user friendly guide book for backcountry skiing along the Icefields Parkway called Confessions of a Ski Bum: The Icefields Parkway Lake Louise to Bow Summit.
The 251-page book provides useful information about dozens of backcountry ski routes that can be easily accessed from the highway.
“There are an infinite number of runs out there and this is definitely a collection of what I would consider the best or the easiest routes to get good turns on,” said Baranow, a self-confessed ski bum and author of the guide book.
“I spend seven days a week skiing and six of those are bushwhacking, so you don’t have to,” he said with a chuckle.
The book provides easy to read descriptions of each area, including driving directions, topographical maps, photos and information about vertical and distance.
He said the book is the culmination of years of skiing in the area, however he only decided to put it together in April.
“Last year, I programmed a website as an online resource and then all of the feedback I got from that was people wanted printed books,” said Baranow, who has a background in computer programming.
Despite having spent years gathering information and data, he thought it would take another two or three years before he had a complete guide.
“Last year was just amazing conditions up there so we were just farming and then about halfway through the season I realized I needed to drop all of my other plans so I could actually put out a book; one that I would be proud of.”
Initially he struggled with the idea of creating a book because he didn’t feel comfortable making people pay for information.
“Being a ski bum, I couldn’t always afford guidebooks earlier in my skiing life, so I always felt people would want free resources,” said Baranow, who published his first guide book seven years ago and put it online for free.
Despite his initial hesitation, he eventually gave in after enough people told him they wanted to have a hard copy with them when they were in backcountry rather then relying on a phone.
In addition to providing information about where to ski, the book also provides general information about spending time in Banff National Park, as well as safety information before travelling in the backcountry.
“I really try to push self-responsibility,” said Baranow, adding he hopes people will use the book to inform themselves about what’s out there in conjunction with other resources such as Avalanche Canada.
The book is available for $35 plus tax and can be found in stores throughout the Bow Valley. Visit www.gettothemountains.com for a full list of stores.