Alaska is a BIG, BIG place, with more ski touring terrain than you could ski in a lifetime. How are we expected to decide where to ski and when? Luckily G3 athlete Joe Stock just released 'The Alaska Factor', a guide book for backcountry skiing in Southcentral Alaska. Apparently Joe has be covering a lot of ground on his ZenOxides over the years. We caught up with Joe to learn more about his endeavour.
G3: What inspired you to make this book? JS: I've thought about writing this book since we moved to Anchorage in 2003. The last guidebook was Skiing Alaska's Back Forty, an amazing book, but it's from 1987. I've always enjoyed freelance writing for magazines about trips and mountain technique. When the tanking economy made freelance magazine writing too competetive in 2008, I realized this was my chance to write the book.
G3: Your guide book covers a significant amount of terrain. How did you gather all the info? Year after year of epic ski missions? Help from friends? Winging it? JS: Yes, year after year of epic skiing around Anchorage. The key was never going to the same place twice and being more passionate about taking photos than getting first tracks. This gave me a chance to learn Anchorage skiing better than most people and have a great set of photos to work with. To show off work by other local photographers, I did collect a few of their photos to add to the mix.
G3: Any plans to take it digital, or get more precise with GPS data? JS: No digital since I'm obsessed about the beauty and inspiration of books. To keep The Alaska Factor inspirational, I added full page color photos and motivating text. Yesterday, a student in an avalanche class said, "My favorite photo is Brad ripping through the air below that rock wall." The photo caption for that photo is "Brad Cosgrove in the Western Chugach." What I don't say is that it is one of the best chutes in the Western Chugach or where it is. The book has no secrets. This is Alaska. Locals agrees that secrets should be earned, not given away in details and GPS coordinates.
G3: Any particular goal of focus behind this project? JS: The book is written for visitors from outside and for those new to Southcentral. It has the information to get to the main zones and to the ridges where the skiing lies. Beyond that, it's for each person to discover and create thier own adventures. The Alaska Factor is also for locals to enjoy photos of friends and places they know.
G3: What next? Now that you're done and have all this time on your hands ;) JS: After guiding, writing and taking photos every day for a year, I took a six week break and climbed in Chamonix and Kalymnos, Greece with my wife. Now it's back to guiding and teaching avi classes every day.
G3: Any fun photos we should sneak peak to the readers? Attached is the photo of Brad Cosgrove. Brad is all-Alaska: lives in cabin with his family, chops wood, raft guide, heli guide, avalanche instructor and rips harder than anyone. Also attached is another favorite: Andy Newton and Jeff Conaway smoking stoges and hitting the flask at Pitchler's Perch. Behind them you'll notice our goal for the next morning.
G3: Best way for skiers to get a copy? To eliminate the middleman, please order from my website: http://www.stockalpine.com
Cheers and happy adventuring in Alaska! Joe