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Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches
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Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  179 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Every year around the globe, people cross paths with avalanches—some massive, some no deeper than a pizza box—with deadly results. Avalanche expert Jill Fredston stalks these so-called freaks of nature, forecasting where and when they will strike, deliberately triggering them with explosives, teaching potential victims how to stay alive, and leading rescue efforts when tra ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published January 8th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 2005)
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Apr 23, 2015 Liralen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fredston is an avalanche expert, a hard-won distinction that comes of years of experience and countless bodies dug out of snow. I don't have a particular interest in avalanches, but I do have an interest in nature...and, after Rowing to Latitude, I do have an interest in Fredston's writing. This is a woman who describes Dyea, a gold-rush town, as a brawl of a town that mushroomed and died within two years (75)—how could I not love a writer with that facility for description?

Fredston's story is t
Dec 26, 2013 Ted rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I have met the author at the annual Canoecopia event in Madison where she presented on her other book, Rowing to Latitude. This one shares the science as well as the human stories surrounding avalanches. Since Jill and her husband both live and teach avalanche science in Anchorage, my future home, I took particular interest in reading about mountains and passes that I have recently become familiar with. Also, as a backcountry telemark skier I also know I am at risk of ...more
Sep 20, 2007 Bryce rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Backcountry skiers
Excellent stories told from the perspective of one of today's foremost snow science experts. Jill Fredston has lived a life many who've come to Alaska can only dream of.
Minus the non-required, lovy-dovy fluff, I would have given this book a 4 and would recommend it to more of my guy friends. But alas, this less desirable material can be waded through with only a minimum amount of sneering and face scrunching.

Still a fantastic read if you are interested in stories of life and death and how to a
Deborah Britton
Dec 29, 2015 Deborah Britton rated it really liked it
Fascinating! I earned so much about avalanches! What a heartbreaking business recovering bodies from the slides. So many dead. I can definitely see how that work would start to get to you after a while. Thanks to Jill and Doug for all the work they have done and although it may appear that most people do not listen to what they have learned you can be sure that some do and their lives are saved.
Feb 06, 2010 Nicola rated it really liked it
"At our avalanche workshops, we like to recite a parable that was masterminded by Bill Glude, with minor contributions by us and others. It begins, 'Brethren and sistren, today I want to speak on morality and the snowpack. You see, life is like the snowpack. There are many paths you can choose. You are free to metamorphose as you please.' We suggest,'You can become a shining example of a moral, responsible snowflake...develop close bonds with your neighbors, sinter and strengthen the entire soci ...more
Gareth Jones
Jan 22, 2013 Gareth Jones rated it it was amazing
Fredston's book is an excellent read for anyone involved in emergency and crisis management (also off-piste or mountain folks). It is interesting and opens up the world of snow. It's value to a BCM or emergency planner is clear when it talks of a really useful approach to making people think about hazards. In this case avalanche traffic lights, red - stop hazardous situation, yellow: caution, green light :ok. The interesting part is their experience of defining the parameters, in this case weath ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 18, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I received this for Christmas in 2007 but hadn't yet got around to reading it. With the multitude of avalanches in the news this year, I thought it was timely.
Jill Fredston and her husband Doug Fesler codirect the Alaska Mountain Safety Center. They have made their careers on avalanche education and avalanche rescue. Using real world stories, Fredston makes the power of avalanches come alive. I was especially taken by her discussions around those who have been killed and injured by avalanches. M
My Review: As a longtime Utahan, I’m no stranger to snow. Although my skiing career ended with too little money and too much knee pain, the threat of avalanche is never far from my mind as friends and family are frequently known to play in our magnificent, snow-covered mountains.

In her book, Snowstruck, Jill Fredston summons her readers into a world of a fatal beauty; the avalanche. Having spent a good part of her life studying avalanches and uncovering (often deceased) recreationists, Fredston
Jan 18, 2008 rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: outdoors, winter
Nathan's mom accidentally gave this book to me one Xmas (she was supposed to give it to Jamie), and I just never got around to reading it. Anyway it's really fascinating. The author, jill Fredston is one of the foremost avalanche experts in the world, and her husband Doug, is the other one. Jill is a very good writer: she knows how to tell a story to keep you turning the pages. Mainly it seems to be real-life stories about avalanches and rescues and deaths. Sometimes it gets pretty hard to keep ...more
Jun 22, 2010 Darcey rated it liked it
Interesting read considering I knew zippo about avalanches before cracking this book. While she doesn't make a big deal of it, Jill Fredston is a real pioneer in the male-dominated field of avalanche study and I enjoyed reading about the progression of her career from that standpoint. It's also kind of a sweet ode to her husband, who was her first mentor in the field (which gives the "snowstruck" title another layer of meaning). Considering Fredston's technical background, I was pleasantly surpr ...more
Aug 27, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
Fascinating book (non-fiction) by this woman who moved to Alaska in her early 20s and became an expert on avalanches, who ended up marrying another avalanche expert. She and her husband were constantly flying / driving / skiing around Alaska trying to prevent disasters from happening, as well as having to mop up when they did. And they expended a great deal of effort trying to educate hunters, climbers, skiers, etc. how to know what areas are safe and what are not. Great personal stories of disa ...more
Mar 07, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I knew very little factual information on avalanches, avalanche forecast, avalanche rescue, or avalanche control. Fredston has a fantastic writing voice and gives many details about her work in the above-mentioned areas, and how she learned her trade, how it emotionally affects her, and how she educates others. It really is a "gripping" read on humans and natural disasters in the enchanting Alaskan environment.
Apr 28, 2009 Wayne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: outdoor
This was a great book - part science, part adventure, part autobio, part romance (yuk!)...with a whole lot of death and destruction rolled in.

I've often thought that I'm pretty much a wimp when it comes to snow recreation...I wuss out when there's a storm or wait a few days after a storm or windy conditions and stick to south facing slopes, etc. when snow I know that that's one of the reasons I've never been caught in an avalanche (seen 'em!) and I'm still alive.
Dan Harris
May 08, 2016 Dan Harris rated it really liked it
If one is looking for an informative book on staying safe in avalanche territories this may not be ideal. Though there are extremely helpful facts and bits of knowledge sprinkled throughout - avalanche safety is not the purpose of this book. Nonetheless, Jill's stories from her decades of experience are thrilling and perhaps the best illustrations of cautionary tales. It was a mere stroke of luck (for my future explorations) that much of the book discusses Alaska.
Christina Dudley
Jan 13, 2013 Christina Dudley rated it really liked it
A gripping read. Cold, disaster, death, human willfulness. If you ever wondered who went to dig out those buried in avalanches while skiing or snowmobiling, look no further. Fascinating discussion of human capacity for denial, as well--people building and living in the known path of recurring natural disaster. Here it's avalanche, but it just as easily applies to coastal homes or developments in fire zones.
Lucy Landry
Jan 15, 2016 Lucy Landry rated it really liked it
If you only read the first couple of chapters and the last chapter, this book ranks 5 stars. Fascinating, sobering descriptions of avalanches, with specific little details that really make an impact. About two-thirds of the way through, my attention dipped slightly from rapt to attentive because it started to feel like just more of the same. But at no point was this book anything but engaging. Not for everyone, but I liked it.
Dec 08, 2013 Nancy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Book Bub
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
While I prefer the coolness of winter temperatures to that of sweltering heat, after reading Snowstruck, I am convinced being caught in an avalanche would completely not be a good thing. While I gave the book a three-star read, this book offered up a five-star quote and my quote of the year: "...though we must pretend otherwise in order to function, none of us can know the script for any day."
Jan 27, 2013 Troy rated it really liked it
Shelves: environment
A very cool book about avalanches, the science behind them and the experts who study them. Fredston shares some great anecdotes from her time in Alaska working on rescues, although most tend to end on a sad note. This was a great read and I would recommend it to anybody interested in learning a bit more about the dangers of avalanches.
Noelle M
Feb 24, 2014 Noelle M rated it really liked it
It's enough to make you rethink playing in the snow or moving to Alaska. I had a chance to move to Nome once, but turned it down. Now I know why! I rate this book on par with stories about ships battered by rogue waves. Informative read.
Oct 23, 2010 J.M. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction
I tagged this as a memoir because it's as much a snapshot of the author's life as it is about avalanches and rescue. I found it fascinating and enjoyed the writing as well as the subject matter a lot.
Marcy Graybill
Jan 10, 2013 Marcy Graybill rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Fredston has a great voice and a narrative style that makes even the statistics interesting. Even though the topic is very serious, there's even a little humor thrown in. Overall a good book for people who enjoy non-fiction.
Edward H. Busse, III
Mar 18, 2011 Edward H. Busse, III rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-owned
Everything you wanted to know about the biblically awesome power or avalanches - the science behind them, the people that control (or at least try to) them, the life and death surrounding them. Jill lives/studies this stuff - she's in Anchorage, AK.
Kristy Robertson
Mar 05, 2013 Kristy Robertson rated it really liked it
Learned so much from this book. How incredible to devote one's life to the study of nature and the laws that govern it.
May 22, 2016 Mike added it
Shelves: outdoors
This book was entirely too weird of a read. What kind of person writes a book that is largely about her spouse? Sorry. I can't get over it. The avalanche information was interesting.
Jan 20, 2008 Pam rated it really liked it
Very well written accounts of avalanche rescues with a touch of romance
Oct 09, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reads
Great read for anyone who spends time outdoors. Educational and humbling. ~NR
Jan 07, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it
Got this as a gift and didn't think I'd be into it but this woman can write suspense! Actually makes me want to go somewhere to find snow!
May 28, 2011 Carrie rated it it was ok
I actually never finished this book. It definitely had some very interesting parts, and I may pick it back up at some point, but overall, I found that it became pretty boring by the middle.
Apr 28, 2014 Penny rated it really liked it
an amazing life.
Jan 07, 2016 Sara rated it it was amazing
I keep going back to this book. Clean writing, compelling topic, and views on outdoor adventures that transcend nature writing. Nonfiction at its best.
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“But though we must pretend otherwise in order to function, none of us can know the script for any day.” 1 likes
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