The new book by veteran snow travel writer Patrick Thorne – Around the world in 50 tracks – takes skiers on a journey between ski slopes located in 30 countries on six continents. Available for purchase in bookstores and online, each of the 50 tracks featured includes an information box and a hand-drawn map that marks each track’s location.
Thorne’s latest book – Powder: the most beautiful ski slopes on the planet – topping Amazon’s best-selling ski book list for over six years. For his new title, he took a different approach in choosing his 50 runs. “There are plenty of listings online covering the steepest and most difficult runs in the world and these are normally the usual suspects, but I’m more interested in runs that have a story, an added dimension beyond the great runs “, did he declare. “In short, I wanted to compile all the amazing stories I’ve collected over the past four decades.”
The book will take readers to the most northern and southern ski areas in the world, on skiable slopes 365 days a year, or on the single track for thousands of miles in southern Africa, on a volcano in the Andes or under phenomenal aurora borealis. There are tracks related to James Bond, Franz Klammer, St Patrick, The Beatles, Santa Claus, Jesus Christ, Emperor Hadrian, Kim Jong-un, Count Dracula, and even the Greek god Zeus. One track follows the line under a witch’s flight and another a route once popular with smugglers.
Although having famous runs is not a priority, the book contains the steepest and longest runs, as well as several legendary World Cup and Olympic downhill runs. Some of the runs are significant in snow sports history, marking key points in the evolution of many of the world’s great ski areas, including Mammoth Mountain, St Moritz and the Colorado run where (arguably) the first ski competition snowboarding took place.
Among the more serious topics discussed are the development of ski areas to reverse the rural exodus, the struggle of indigenous tribes to retain control of their ancestral lands (many opt to manage their own ski areas), the links between the different religions and ski resorts, the old mining communities reinvented themselves thanks to “white gold”, the fight for gay rights, a ski area recovered from the Taliban, how some ski areas have developed thanks to the growth of railroad networks, and even ski areas that grew through mountain warfare training.
The climate emergency is another topic that Thorne, who also runs SaveOurSnow.com, and other skiers have witnessed first hand. A famous race graphically illustrates the impact of melting glaciers. But many of the races are just plain fun with themes like cheese, love, and Christmas.
“The late great ski filmmaker Warren Miller got it when he said his favorite ski hill was his next ski hill,” Thorne said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the longest or the steepest, if you’re a great skier or a beginner, as long as you enjoy your life in the snow.”