Tom Turiano is a skier, explorer and author of several major backcountry ski guidebooks, including “Teton Skiing: A History and Guide” and the “Jackson Hole Backcountry Skiers Guide: South.” Turiano is currently working on a revised edition of his more regional book, “Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History and Guide,” which is expected to be published in late 2022.
KHOL contributor Natalie Schachar spoke to Turiano about creating the new edition, as well as the mixed feelings he sometimes has about sharing information about the area’s backcountry treasures. The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.
NATALIE SCHACHAR/KHOL: You’ve written many popular backcountry skiing guidebooks. Why did you feel a revised edition of “Select Peaks” was necessary?
TOM TURIANO: Well, for one, it was my best-selling title, so I wanted to get it back out there because it encompasses the Bozeman/Billings/Livingston market. So, there’s a lot more people that buy books [in that region]. So, I wanted to sell more books before coming back to the local market.
KHOL: I’d love to understand a little bit more about your process. How do you start when you’re approaching the revised edition, and what are the considerations you take into account?
TURIANO: Well, for one, over the years that the book is out, I get feedback and some of that feedback is, you know, errors that I made. And so I want to fix the errors. You know, a lot of people ask me, ‘Why don’t you just reprint it?’ And I can’t do that. I can’t put something out there that I know has errors in it. And two, there are areas in the first edition that I could have gone down a deep rabbit hole, exploring and getting into. And in the first edition, I decided not to go down those rabbit holes. But on the next edition, I’m going to! But I’m taking out other areas. So, the book will be about the same size, hopefully, though it’ll have a lot more photos, and it’ll be in full color.
KHOL: I know a question on many people’s minds, and one that you address at the very outset of your book is whether a guidebook, however nobly intended, might harm this magnificent place. How do you respond to those questions?
TURIANO: Well, I think about it every day, especially now that I have so many books out there and they’ve really started to sell and become popular. And I’m out there a lot, and I’m seeing places that I used to go to or that I’ve been going to for years, and I’m not alone anymore. And I feel bad about that. In some ways, mainly for my own enjoyment, I’d like to have places all to myself, so I feel, you know, upset that I’ve shared these places. I feel bad for my many friends and mentors who might feel the same way, like upset that I wrote these books and now their solitude is affected.
But at the same time, I’m also really happy when I hear from people who say that I’ve changed their lives and given them, you know, a guidebook to adventures that they might not otherwise have had. So in the end, I think it’s a good thing. In fact, I think getting people out there, enjoying nature, enjoying the wilderness is really the only way we can protect these places from the things that would destroy them. If nobody cared about them, there are forces out there that would just take all the magic out of them, and I don’t want to see that happen.
KHOL: As of the first edition, you had yourself climbed about 85 of 107 peaks [in the book]. So, did you end up getting to those last 30 or so?
TURIANO: That’s right. It’s been 19 years since the book came out in 2003. I now have 105 under my belt, so I’m still two short that I have not climbed, and I hope to get to those before the book comes out, so that I can say I’ve climbed them all.
KHOL: And what are those last two?
TURIANO: They’re both in the Wind River [Range]. I haven’t been up Lizard Head Peak or Mount Helen.
KHOL: And is there a reason why those last two kind of eluded you for so long?
TURIANO: Well, Mount Helen obviously is really remote and difficult, and Lizard I’ve tried a few times but just didn’t succeed. So, I’ve just got to go back in there and do it now that I know exactly where the route is. I had to do a little bit of trial and error to find the best route.
KHOL: Well, I’ll leave this here and let the skiers explore these peaks themselves by reading the revised edition. Again, the book is “Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone: A Mountaineering History and Guide” by Tom Turiano. Tom, thanks so much for being here.
TURIANO: Thanks for having me.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Turiano.