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Writing what you know

Kennett grad publishes book on backcountry skiing

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by Joshua Spaulding
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Sports Editor - Salmon Press Newspapers
September 24, 2020
REGION — As the son of a pair of ski coaches in Freedom, Kurt Niiler basically grew up on skis at the many local ski areas. He skied for the Mount Washington Valley Ski Team and skied on Kennett High School's championship teams until he graduated in 2013 and went on to ski at Bates College as well. And now, he's a ski coach at Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine.

So, it's only natural that if he was going to write a book, it was going to be a book about skiing.

Niiler's book, "Presidential Skiing," is now available after more than two years of work, which was completed thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I've been working on it for two years, kind of on and off," Niiler said. "But when the whole COVID thing happened, I had no excuse, I said I've got to finish it now."

"Presidential Skiing" is a guidebook to the backcountry ski trails in the Presidential Range in New Hampshire's White Mountains. The book is written in the form of a rock climbing guide, with four chapters and 17 areas. In each area there is an introduction with approach route information and a map.

Additionally, Niiler went up in an airplane and took pictures of the Presidential Range and in the book, the photos have each trail drawn on with a number and each number corresponds to a description.

"It's all backcountry skiing in the alpine zone," Niiler said. "It's focused on all of the ravines and gullies in the Presidential Range."

The book contains information on 90 different routes and Niiler himself has skied more than 80 of them.

"There's a couple of them that are condition-dependent," he said, pointing out that a few actually haven't been skied on since 2010 but Niiler wanted his book to serve as a record so he also included them.

After ski racing in high school, Niiler went to college and started getting into rock climbing and backcountry skiing was kind of a way to blend the two things he really enjoyed.

"Growing up in the Mount Washington Valley, I was a kid who went up to Tuckerman Ravine every spring and I got just loved being up there," Niiler said. "I eventually decided to stop racing and spend as much time as I could out there."

Originally, Niiler was going to get a publisher to put the book in print, but he decided to self-publish it and it is now available to order at presidentialskiing.com.

Additionally, the book is available at a few local locations, including Ski the Whites in Jackson, Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, International Mountain Equipment (IME) in North Conway and REI in North Conway.

"The Presidential Range is pretty cool," Niiler said. "There's a pretty high number of quality backcountry skiing up there."

Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or josh@salmonpress.news.

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