Age: 39 Specs: 5-foot-10, 150 pounds
Home: Park City, Utah
THE CASE: A cool head who often climbs routes two or three times before attempting to ski them, McLean has brought a new level of technical refinement to ski mountaineering, often linking the broken sections of a "discontinuous line" with breathtaking traverses and rappels. (He's also seen avalanches claim the lives of three of his close friends, including über-alpinist Alex Lowe in 1999.) McLean is known for skiing big alpine faces, couloirs, and even serious ice climbs, from the Alps to the Himalayas. When it comes to his home range, he wrote the book, The Chuting Gallery, which details 95 expert-to-extreme descents in Utah's Wasatch Mountains and features a disclaimer from his mother: "Obviously, no one in their right mind would ski this stuff—and you shouldn't either." A product designer for Black Diamond, he came up with the Whippet, a miniature ice-ax head that snaps onto your ski-pole handle and may help stop you if you fall. "Of course," as McLean points out, "falling is verboten."
SECOND OPINION: "Andrew looks between the obvious descents for the sneaky lines," says Hans Saari, a fellow skier from Bozeman, Montana. "Sometimes that means skiing. Sometimes it means sideslipping madness, hopping down backwards on ice with your tails slamming into the rock."
MOST HARROWING MOMENT: In 1998, in icy conditions, McLean and Saari descended the Hossack-McGowan Couloir on the northeast face of the Grand Teton, a discontinuous 2,000-foot descent that includes a 55- to 60-degree, 1,000-vertical-foot chute. "It was totally exposed, over cliffs the whole way," says McLean. "Within the first five minutes you were in the no-fall zone, and it went on like that for four or five hours."
WHAT'S NEXT: A family—perhaps. "The desire is there, but it keeps getting put off," McLean admits. "Maybe after next ski season."