Those who know their snowboarding history know Craig Kelly.

“Craig was like the Michael Jordan of snowboarding,” is how Eric Blehm describes Kelly.

Author Eric Blehm talks April 12 at Word after Word bookstore in Truckee.

Blehm was at Truckee’s Word after Word bookstore April 12 to promote his book The Darkest White: The Avalanche that Took Him through a conversation with Truckee’s Jim Zellers, another legend in the world of snowboarding. I watched the event the next day; and recommend you do the same.

Kelly was one of seven people who died Jan. 20, 2003, in an avalanche on the Durrand Glacier in Canada. He was 36. Truckee resident Kathy Kessler, 39, died in that same avalanche.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Blehm’s The Last Season: Randy Morgenson was legendary for finding people missing in the High Sierra. … Then one day he went missing himself (HarperCollins, 2006) I imagine the same will be true with this latest book.

I found the talk fascinating because it wasn’t a book reading. It was an opportunity for those in attendance locally and afar to get insight into Blehm’s approach to the book, to learn about the five years of research. That’s what happens when you interview more than 100 people and some of what you learn leads you down pointless rabbit holes.

“It’s so well researched. It answered a lot of questions for me,” Zellers said.

At times both men got choked up as they talked about their friend and shared memories.

Many in attendance knew Kelly personally and knew his story, as well as what happened on the mountain that fateful day. This is because some were survivors of the expedition and others lost loved ones that day.

Not being a snowboarder or familiar with Kelly didn’t matter. I was riveted. I don’t know what the controversy was surrounding the tragedy. Blehm admits he didn’t have all the answers, and in part that led him to this project.

Based on audience questions and comments this is more than a book about Kelly and his death. It’s also about the history of snowboarding.

Zellers’ comment that he “was surprised by the ending” makes me want to read the book even more.

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