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What’s In Your Pack?

And 11 other questions for cookbook author, ski guide, and Ski Journal editor Lily Krass Ritter.

Lily Krass Ritter loves food as much as she loves skiing. The co-author of “Beyond Skid: A Cookbook for Ski Bums,” written alongside her husband and fellow foodie, Max Ritter, Lily is also the newly hired and first female editor of The Ski Journal, one of our favorite coffee table ski magazines. If that doesn’t keep her busy enough, the Jackson, Wyoming-based wordsmith and snack connoisseur also works as a ski guide with Exum Mountain Guides and volunteers as a guide and instructor with Coombs Outdoors, a nonprofit based in Jackson that reduces barriers for local youth getting into the mountains. Next fall, Max and Lily will debut their second cookbook, which is being published by Mountaineers Books and will focus specifically on snacks for skiers. We called up Lily after a day of ski guiding to chat about some of her favorite things.

How did you end up writing your first cookbook?

Max and I were cooking a lot and we thought, let’s compile some recipes to give to our friends who seem like they don’t eat anything but free pizza from the ski shop. And then, somehow, that turned into a book that we self published.

Favorite skintrack snack?

I’ve been really into quesadillas recently, because they're flat. Whenever I make a sandwich, I always smush it. So for me, flat snacks like quesadillas or pancakes seemingly only get better when they've sat in your pocket for a while. I’ll put in cheddar cheese, black beans, roasted sweet potatoes, kale, and then a lot of extra cheese to keep everything together.

What mountain or zone feels like home to you?

Grand Teton National Park feels like home to me because there’s so much terrain that feels comfortable to me. But also there’s so much terrain that is intimidating to me and so much I can learn from. It encompasses everything I love about skiing and my progression as both a skier and a guide. It kind of has everything.

Beyond Skid: A Cookbook For Skiers is available to purchase here.

What made you want to become a writer?

I actually stumbled upon an internship for Ski and Skiing magazines when I was in school in Boulder. I was studying Spanish and Italian, not journalism. And I remember seeing it on the journalism website and I had no idea that you could write about skiing and that was a job. I was like, I should do this. I reached out and got the internship and I remember the editor at the time, Kim Beekman, saying, ‘You should do this. This could be your job.’ And I was just blown away.

What would you say are the ingredients of a compelling ski story?

I think the most important ingredient is the people we get to meet and experience. The characters are everything. And honestly, good snow can be great, but that’s the least essential part. The human connection that skiing cultivates, which is so much stronger than any other activity that I’ve participated in, is what makes skiing so interesting to me. That, and a story is always more interesting when something goes wrong.

What made you want to become a guide?

I had a lot of great mentors who opened doors for me. Being able to be introduced to the backcountry in such a gentle and welcoming way is something that I realize not everybody gets to experience. I had this gift bestowed upon me in terms of this friendly and inviting way to learn to ski tour, so getting to help other people experience the same thing that I felt feels like a gift I can pass on.

Name a surprising item we might find in your backcountry pack.

I have an MSR pot scrubber that is just the all-time best. On one side, it’s a little brush, and then on the other side, it’s a scraper and so I use it to brush the snow off my backpack so my back doesn’t get wet or brush off my skis. It’s this tiny thing that costs less than $10 that a mentor of mine first taught me about and now I use it every day.

Share something that not everybody knows about you.

I speak Italian. I studied Spanish and Italian. Aside from cooking and skiing and writing, studying languages is my next great love in life.

What’s a place you haven’t skied yet that you’d like to visit?

I really want go to ski some volcanoes in Ecuador.

If you could ski with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Definitely my mom. But don’t tell Max I said that. My mom and I learned to ski tour together when I was about 15 or 16. We were each other’s main ski touring partners and then I went off to college and she made friends to ski with and so these days it feels really special when we get to spend the day in the mountains together because it’s a lot more rare.

And after that day of ski touring with your mom, what are you eating at the end of the day?

Pizza on my new pizza oven at the trailhead. You can make a pizza in 90 seconds. I’d top it with ricotta and honey and fresh corn and basil.

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