Haas slide book updated following Irene storm

KEENE VALLEY – The newest edition of the Adirondack Slide Guide was released recently, giving backcountry skiers a new tool for planning their winter adventures.

The second edition of the book by Jay photographer and skier Drew Haas hit stores in April.

Haas calls the book more of a “tool” than a guidebook. It’s intent is to whet the appetite of backcountry enthusiasts and encourage them to seek out new mountainous areas to ski, climb or hike.

The book contains a preface by Jesse Williams, who owns Keene Valley-based Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides with his wife and fellow guide, Emilie Drinkwater. After the preface is a short introduction, followed by 45 pages of black and white aerial photos of High Peaks. The mountains were chosen because they contained slides, drainages and other features that could be skied, hiked or climbed.

The guidebook does not contain any directions for getting to the mountains and slides. This is done purposely by Haas who believes that if he gave directions to these features it would take away from the adventure of exploring them. Instead, the book is intended to encourage people to use their maps, compasses and other backcountry skills. If you’re looking for a well-marked trail with colored markers, this book isn’t for you.

“The idea is: check it out,” Haas said. “There’s all this terrain. Go and explore.”

Haas said that one of the reasons he decided to create the original Slide Guide was to encourage people to go to new areas.

“I found that a lot of people were going to the same spots, kind of low-hanging fruit,” Haas said.

Haas self-published and distributed 2,000 copies of the first edition. He said they were sold out in a couple of years. He then started offering digital PDFs of the book.

But availability didn’t spur the second edition. The motivation for it came after Tropical Storm Irene, which hit the Adirondacks on August 28, 2011, created dozens of new scars on the mountains.

Right after the storm, Haas took a plane with the Adirondack Flying Service over the High Peaks. He returned to the skies the following March to take some photographs for the book.

“There were ski tracks all over,” Haas said. “You can’t tell from photos. If I look at my originals and zoom in, I can see ski tracks on Colden and Wright and Algonquin and Gothics. It’s cool to see just how much people had been getting out and skiing, new slides and old slides”

Haas wanted to take photos in March because there was snow on the mountains, which was perfect for the black and white photos.

“I think the snow helped stuff pop a little more, (it added) a little bit more definition,” Haas said.

The one color photo in the book is on the cover. It depicts backcountry skiing legend Glen Plake standing on the summit of Wright Peak, looking in the direction of a slide on Algonquin Peak. Plake was in town in March 2012 for the Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival hosted by Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides and The Mountaineer gear store.

“The backstory is cool,” Haas said. “That is his first view of the Adirondack High Peaks. Obviously, it’s all socked in. … clouds were rolling through … The fact that it’s him is cool, but I like kind of what the picture describes. The person, kind of with their hand up, trying to get a view of the slide.”

This version of the Adirondack Slide Guide was published and is being distributed by The Mountaineer in Keene Valley, where Haas is an employee. It is also available locally at Bookstore Plus and High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid.