White Heat, by Wayne Johnson

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The Independent Culture

"This book is intended to put the reader on the mountain," explains ski enthusiast Wayne Johnson in his foreword, but it's a mighty zigzagging ride to the end as he veers between history, technical detail and personal experience in a frequently irritating "Look at me!" novelistic style, much of the time archly referring to himself in the second person.

He is obviously no mean skier himself, and boy does he let you know it, with often unintentionally hilarious results: a snowboarder has "an expensive jacket, a Mountain Hardwear. Like yours. This kid's an expert".

Persevere, though, and there is much of merit in this mish-mash: the sections detailing his work with the Mountain Patrol in Utah, rescuing injured skiers and learning how to dynamite snowfalls that threaten avalanches, are genuinely gripping, and at his best he manages to convey the sheer joy of skiing very effectively. He is on less certain ground when he tries to get down with the freestyle kids, but that, as he frequently says, is another story.

Published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, £7.99

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