Extreme skier Dan Egan’s memoir ‘Thirty Years in a White Haze’ refers to the 1990 Mount Elbrus tragedy
Author will appear at a book signing on Friday
Extreme skier Dan Egan’s life changed on May 2, 1990.
He was in a group with 12 other adventurers from around the world who got caught in a blizzard on Mount Elbrus, the highest peak of the Caucasus mountains in southwestern Russia.
The storm left more than 15 dead from other groups, but Egan survived in a hand-dug snow cave. After he was rescued by a Russian guide, the two rescued 14 others and took them to base.
This story and more are highlighted in Egan’s memoir, “Thirty Years in a White Haze,” which was co-written by Boston Globe sports columnist Eric Wilbur.
Egan will read some excerpts and sign his book from 3:30-5 p.m. on Friday at Alps & Meters, located at the St. Regis Deer Valley, 2300 Deer Valley Drive East. Après ski refreshments will be provided.
The book’s title is a direct reference to the Mount Elbrus expedition tragedy, Egan said.
“When you read mountaineering books, they always end with a disaster, and never begin with one,” Egan said. “For me, Mount Elbrus was the beginning of my adult life. I was 26, and lost in the storm for 38 hours, and that story had never really been told.”
Since the incident Egan has taken stock of his life, and reflect on the pivotal moments of his career, which include various appearances with his brother John Egan in more than a dozen Warren Miller ski films, working as general manager of the Tenney Mountain Ski Area in New Hampshire, serving as president of Egan Entertainment Network and becoming the chief traditions officer for Alps & Meters, an Alpine sportswear company.
“I’ve been wanting to tell the John and Dan story for a while — two kids coming out of Boston to ski around the world,” he said. “The inspiration for that came with working with Warren for so long. I was amazed that every time Warren had an up or down turn he would write a book. And that was kind of what motivated me.”
Egan, a U.S. Ski &Snowboard Hall of Fame inductee, began writing the outline to “White Haze” seven years ago.
“Luckily, Eric Wilbur was interested in helping me out,” Egan said. “He was instrumental in bringing the arc of the story together.”
The biggest challenge for writing the memoir was figuring out what to include.
“Boston, itself, has so much history,” Egan said. “My grandfather was the superintendent of Boston schools, and my mother learned to ski on the median strip down the Boston Parkway in the 1940s with her brothers. They had one pair of boots and one pair of skis and they would share them.”
Growing up in the city in the 1970s and Egan’s parents’ philosophy of getting eight kids out of the house led to the adventure lifestyle, he said.
“That’s an element of John and my personality,” he said with a laugh. “We were courageous, bold and not afraid of the unknown, because we’ve lived amongst it for so long.”
Egan’s connection with the inner workings of the ski industry came through the Ski Market, one of the biggest retailers in New England.
“My oldest brother ran one of the Ski Markets, and I started working at that shop when I was 14,” Egan said. “Going to product clinics and being a shop kid, it makes me feel like an authority in the sport, and people I met went on to be the president of Solomon, or the marketing director at Head.”
Those connections supported Egan and John when they began making their own winter-sports movies in the 1990s.
“We had people cheering for us every step of the way,” Egan said.
Not only is “Winter Haze” a memoir, it is also a story about perseverance, according to the author.
“I wanted to tell a story about being knocked down and getting back up as an entrepreneur in the sports industry,” he said. “It’s not easy, you know. You start off with blind ambition and an idea, but it always turns into something you didn’t figure on. So you try to figure out what to do with it.”
Egan cites his adventurous upbringing as the reason he’s been able to ride life’s moguls.
“It’s that chins-to-the-wind and New England attitude that we can survive the storm that has kept me going,” he said.
When: 3:30-5 p.m. on Friday, March 26
When: Alps & Meters, at the St. Regis Deer Valley, 2300 Deer Valley Drive East
Web: dan-egan.com and alpsandmeters.com
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