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SHAPED BY SNOW: Defending the Future of Winter

by Ayja Bounous





AYJA BOUNOUS is a Utah native and avid skier. She holds an MA in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah and bachelor’s degrees in Music and Environmental Studies from Santa Clara University. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Skier and debut author Ayja Bounous explores threats to winters and watershed in the face of climate change and the far-reaching impacts of a diminishing snowpack on the American West—from ecological and economic perspectives and in regard to emotional and psychological health—as she realizes how deeply her personal relationships are tied to the snow-covered mountains of Utah's Wasatch range.

November 2019 | Nonfiction | 978-1-948814-10-2 | 225 pp | $18.95

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Cover photo by Sam Watson



"The question at the heart of Shaped by Snow is important. What do we do when the things that sustain us aren't sustainable anymore?"

“Compelling . . . Bounous is passionate about mountains, and it shows.”


“In this affecting environmental meditation, debut author and activist Bounous muses on the threat climate change poses to the winter season, placing an issue with planet-wide ramifications into a personal context . . . readers interested in an intimate take on climate change will find a thoughtful book that effectively makes the global personal.”


“Environmental science, geographic history of the western US, the sport of skiing, economic dependency on a single industry, and a workforce of immigrants are all thoughtfully addressed.”


“A love letter and an elegy to a time when innocence could exist before the era of climate change . . . written with a muscularity of experience by a woman whose character was formed on the ski slopes in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.”
—TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS, author of Erosion

"Those who love winter will love this book. But as we steadily erase the season that sets us free from friction, Shaped by Snow will appeal to anyone who has ever looked up and thrilled at the first flakes fat in the autumn sky." 

—BILL MCKIBBEN, author of Falter

“Stunning and evocative . . . This book bears witness to the changing nature of Utah and the Wasatch Front, and is a call to all of us to pay more attention, to choose our actions with thought, and to live with love.”

—SYLVIA TORTI, author of Cages

“The best people grow in open air, Walt Whitman told us, eat and sleep with the earth. Ayja Bounous is that person: raised on snow, seasoned on rivers, bound by conscience, called to action. This Utah oracle reminds us what’s at stake, what we are fighting for.”

MARK SUNDEEN, author of The Unsettlers

"Musings on powder, skiing, and the future of the Greatest Snow on Earth from a member of one of the Wasatch Range’s royal families that is sure to appeal to Utah skiers.”
—JIM STEENBURGH, author of Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth

“Bounous vulnerably shares her pragmatic yet emotional views on bringing children into the world we are crumbling, taking the reader through an introspective journey, connecting our passions to our past and our wishes to a very real future.”

BRODY LEVEN, professional skier


“There is no snow on earth like what funnels into Little Cottonwood Canyon and sustains the passionate powder hunters of Alta, Snowbird, and their adjacent peaks and bowls. Shaped by Snow is an intimate window into a heavenly place, by a writer whose family has rocked this cradle of skiing culture for three generations.”
NATHANIEL VINTON, author of The Fall Line


“A provocative read celebrating each and every snowflake yet leaving us with the question of environmental justice over the economics of the skiing industry and the future of life itself.”
BOBBI LYNN SMITH, Between the Covers Bookstore


“In 2019 young people take climate personally, and Ayja Bounous’s Utah snow is personal terrain with a public dimension. Bounous mixes memory and desire to carve a bold line through the anthropocene slopes that surround her."
JEFFREY MCCARTHY, Director of the Environmental Humanities Graduate Program, University of Utah

"As fresh and bracing as the first winter trip on the slopes."

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