Reading the North

Boots, Bikes, and Bombers: Adventures of Alaska Conservationist Ginny Hill Wood

Edited by Karen Brewster (University of Alaska Fairbanks, $29.95)

The blurb: Part of the Oral Biography Series, created through a collaborative process in which community members conduct interviews that are then transcribed and edited into a narrative, this biography of Ginny Hill Wood details how she cofounded Alaska's first ecotourism lodge, helped start the Alaska Conservation Society and worked as a backcountry guide.

Excerpt: "'I was the right age, at the right time, in the right place,' replies Virginia Hill Wood, known to her friends as Ginny, when asked about events that have shaped her life. Ginny is self-effacing and shuns suggestions that she has led a remarkable life or is a role model for others. She is quick to say that there were plenty of other people doing exactly the same things. With such humility, you would think Ginny shy. Far from it. She is an animated storyteller, captivating her audience with tales of a time and way of life that have long since disappeared. Her blue eyes brighten, she smiles, and her speech revs with feverish excitement when a visitor stops by her small log house in the hills above Fairbanks, Alaska."

Skijor With Your Dog

By Mari Hoe-Raitto and Carol Kaynor (Snowy Owl Books, $17.95)

The blurb: The second edition of this book is a practical guide to the sport of skijoring, covering equipment you'll need, how to teach your dog to pull and how to work with your dog year-round.

Excerpt: "The snowplow is the most basic method of decreasing your speed or coming to a halt. To snowplow, bend your legs and slide the backs of your skis outward, with your ski tips almost together but not crossing. The wider the angle of your skis, the slower you will go. Bending your knees more deeply will increase the edge on your skis, which also will help you to go slower.

"As with learning balance, it is best to start without poles when you learn to slow and stop. Your body weight should be back on your heels, not on your toes. Don't lean forward. Your arms should be relaxed and hanging by your side, your back straight and your body relaxed."

The Time Has Come

By Damien O'Brien (The Collins Press)

The blurb: An account of the life of Ger McDonnell, from his home in Ireland to his move to Alaska to his summit and eventual death on K2.

Excerpt: "K2 is in the remote Karakoram range near the Himalayas on the border of China and Pakistan. It is the highest summit in a huge and remote mountain range that contains eight of the world's thirty highest peaks. K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, but is considered to be the most difficult to climb. It is known as 'the mountaneers' mountain,' being an average 20 per cent steeper than Everest and, at 877km/545 miles further north, much colder. K2 has also been christened 'the savage mountain, partly due to its severe, fast-changing weather, but also for its high fatality rage: 27 per cent of people who have climbed K2 have died on the descent, three times the rate on Mount Everest."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News