Chuting Gallery Ultimate Upgrade

| December 29, 2011

Just as I was thinking of putting The Chuting Gallery out as an eBook, I received a fantastic gift from Andrew Thompson that put the eBook concept into perspective.  Andrew is an artist, illustrator and bookbinder from  Brooklyn, NY who comes out to the Wasatch Mountains to go skiing.  We had emailed me in the past about getting galley proofs of The Chuting Gallery for a bookbinding project, but I didn’t have any at the time, so I put the project on hold. Then, a few days ago, a package showed up from Andrew with an unbelievably beautiful, hand tooled leather book case, custom made with Chuting Gallery imagery and a Whippet graphic on the back.

The cover is a clamshell case with round spine which features a painting of a Wolverine Cirque style chute framed by the entrance to the Heart of Darkness and clear blue skies.  This is framed with Nigerian goatskin with goat skin overlays, alum (?) tanned sheepskin overlays and reverse quilted calf vellum overlays.  OMG!  The spine has the book title, and a lovely set of tracks  grace the exit of the cover couloir.

The interior is has been perfectly sized to fit a copy of The Chuting Gallery and is lined with topo map imagery from upper Little & Big Cottonwood Canyons.  The black fabric is Japanese silk and it has a leather pull tab to help extract the book.

I wrote and self published The Chuting Gallery in 1998 and expected the local land fill would be my biggest customer. The book was originally intended to be a pamphlet printed on 8.5″ x 11″ copy  paper and then folded and stapled together with a card stock cover. However, I accidentally worked on it too long and when I went to print it, I discovered that I would have to have it “perfect” bound, which meant printing thousands instead of one hundred.  By then I had too much time and energy into it to drop it, so I wrote the check and a few weeks later picked up a pallet of Chuting Gallery’s from amidst a warehouse full of the Book of Mormon.

The book has taken on a life of its own, which is due in large part to the rise in popularity of backcountry skiing during the same time span.  Most of the flak I’ve gotten over it comes from skiers who are upset that I gave away such “secrets” as the South Face of Superior or the Y-Couloir, although the only thing that is secret about those obvious roadside attractions is that they are not nearly as steep and nasty as they look.  Soon after printing it, a local avalanche forecaster told me I was going to “have the blood of dead 16 year-olds on my hands” from all of the adolescents who rushed out to ski these lines and died in avalanches.  So far this hasn’t happened, mostly because there is a lot of sweat and effort involved in skiing most of these lines, which is inherently self limiting.

One of my favorite TCG experiences happened about halfway up the Y-couloir when I came across a guy who had been hiking it for about two hours at that point.  When we caught up to him, he was completely ecstatic about the size and aesthetics of The Y and was explaining all of the stats and virtues of it to us, all of which he had learned from his roommates copy of the Chuting Gallery.  It was obvious he was having some sort of backcountry revelation, and he hadn’t even skied it yet.  Between encounters like this and unexpected gifts like Andrew Thompson’s cover, it has been a fun journey.

Alas, almost none of the lines in The Chuting Gallery are skiable yet this season, but if you are interested in getting a copy anyway, they are available through under the “Buy it New or Used” tab for the book, or, there’s a Chuting Gallery tab in the header at the top of this page.


Category: Wasatch Mountains

About the Author ()

Andrew McLean lives in Park City, Utah and is a gear designer, writer, photographer, ski mountaineer, climber, Mountain Unicycle rider and father of two very loud little girls.

Comments (8)

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  1. Ty Falk says:

    I just thought about it and can think of at least 8 from TCG that have got skied so far this season. Holy Toledo, Hallway, Toledo Chute, Main Chute ,Dogleg, Suicide and a few in woulvy. You crazy folks out there! I guess one good thing about the low snow year is that we havent had to hear from the Powderbirds. Although I’am sure they will make up for it at the end of the season or something.

  2. Jim K says:

    Very cool indeed. Who says print is dead?

  3. Pondsy says:

    I for one have my copy memorized. And signed by the author!

  4. d3 says:

    GoRGeoUs !

  5. Ty Falk says:

    Wow TCG looks great! Well even though there is no snow, that has not stopped anyone skiing chutes. I can count about ten then have been skied so far this year. Toledo Chute, Holey Toledo, Suicide, Main Chute, Little Chute, NW Pfeifferhorn, The Hallway, a few in Woulvy. You crazy folks!! Pray for snow.

  6. Chuteski says:

    When is the second edition coming out? And please find someone who can ski to do the new cover shot. Great looking leather binder!

  7. Chuck says:

    Nice book, but I think you’re looking at the cover upside-down. The picture is looking down the chute, with the ramp going up to the LCC ridgeline. It even has the skiff of snow on the left wall. See the pick I took yesterday: ok, so maybe it wasn’t yesterday ;-)

  8. ron says:

    I love the original cover shot. It looks like a highly developed technique to me…or maybe just because that’s how I ski in those situations.

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