Given the long history of the book, and the even longer history as ski guide authors of writers Chris Gill and Dave Watts, it's hard to believe that they're still managing to find ways to improve the book, but further improve it they have. Among many other tweaks there are new or extended chapters on resorts in Austria, Italy, the French Pyrenees, Spain and Slovenia. There's a particularly interesting chapter on the internationally little known Italian resort of Abetone.
In this world of online ski information publication it's both impressive, and telling, that Where to Ski and Snowboard continues to go from strength to strength when most of the competition has been forced to throw in the towel. Now the only annually published ski guide book in the UK, and at the same time the only comprehensive guide to skiing in resorts around the planet published anywhere in the world, people continue to pick it up as most instantly accessible than any online source. There's no need to wade through pages of Google hits wondering if the information you find is inadequate advertising copy or ten years out of date, with this incredible paper-based technology you pick it up, find your resort, and know that comprehensive information on the resort you want is going to there and up to date. Why didn't anyone think of it before?
Remarkably Where to Ski and Snowboard even covers resorts in the leading ski nations better than most guide books in the countries they're covering manage to. Particularly if you want to know about gourmet mountain restaurants and off piste descents which are covered better here than anywhere else.
At the heart of Where to Ski and Snowboard are 580 pages devoted to detailed description and evaluation of over 400 resorts (in around 120 areas) in the Alps, North America, Pyrenees, eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Japan and Scotland. The book is revised throughout, as always, but developments this year are focused on coverage of good value resorts.
Continuing the value theme, the unique Resort Price Index (RPI) survey introduced last year has been updated and extended, and now covers all major resorts in the book.
The editors manage to combine comprehensive and detailed information with unrivalled ease of use. A key feature for the 30-plus most important resorts is the book's revolutionary piste maps, each printed over a double-page spread with key aspects of the mountains clearly highlighted. These highlights might include, for example, the editors' favourite runs, the best areas for easy cruising or tough mogul runs, where to find the best snow, the top mountain restaurants or crucial new lifts that make a big difference.
Each major resort chapter features photos carefully chosen to convey the character of the place and a clear, accessible layout, with the merits of each resort summarised in various ways - star ratings, overall summaries, specific plus and minus points, and hard-hitting verdicts on the slopes and the village from many different points of view. Whether you are a beginner mainly interested in the nursery slopes and the ski school, a powder-snow expert looking for guidance to the best off-piste terrain, a jibber searching for the top terrain-parks or a night-owl looking for lively après-ski, you'll find a clear assessment of each resort to help you.
The book's other great strength is less obvious: its dedication to giving uncompromisingly honest and impartial assessments of the resorts. The two editors are famous for telling it like it is, and always take a strong consumerist line.
Where to Ski and Snowboard 2011 is published by NortonWood Publishing, price £18.99. The book is available from all good bookshops and many equipment shops, or online at a heavily discounted price from www.wheretoskiandsnowboard.com