Category Archives: Obituaries

Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Ski Patrol pioneer, rescue toboggan inventor and 10th Mountain Division skiing skills trainer, Nelson Bennett, passed away just a few months after his 101st birthday. Sun Valley, Idaho, Ski-Patrol 1940-41 Bennett was the recipient of a National Ski Patrol (NSP) National Appointment, #1304, in the 1950s.

Bennett, a native of Lancaster, New Hampshire, graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1940 with a degree in Forestry. He was also an early member of the UNH Ski Team, and during school breaks worked at Peckett’s Inn on Sugar Hill in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, one of America’s first resorts and ski schools. During World War II, Bennett was drafted in 1942 and served as a skiing skills trainer for the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division and in Italy, as a member of this US alpine infantry Continue reading Ski Patrol Pioneer, Nelson Bennett, Dies at 102

Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him

Yellowstone Club ski patroller and avalanche expert, Darren Johnson, triggered an avalanche near Cedar Basin that swept him to his death. Johnson was in a 4-member group doing avalanche research on 19 January in the southwestern Montana area near Big Sky. Having concluded 23 stability tests over 4 hours of research that late morning and early afternoon, Johnson was well aware of the risk of jumping onto what the group had determined was an unstable wind-loaded slope with a “Considerable” rating for avalanche risk, but Continue reading Patroller and Avalanche Expert, Darren Johnson, Triggers Slide that Kills Him

Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler. J.D., died at 64 in April. Lawler grew up on a farm in Iowa, and that work ethic continued throughout his years of service as an attorney and through his volunteer efforts, where he passionately represented the interests of patrollers, farmers and consumers. David Lawler

Lawler was an attorney in private practice in Iowa, where he was admitted to practice law in 1975, and at the federal district level in 1978. In addition to his non-profit contributions at Ski Patrol Inc. and its Ski-Patrol.net publication, Lawler dedicated much of his time over the years as a volunteer to many worthy causes.

Lawler held a number of positions as an attorney during his 40 year Continue reading Obituary: Ski Patrol Inc. Cofounder, David Lawler

NSP and 10th Mountain Division Legend, Earl Clark, Dies at 95

Ski industry pioneer, Earl Ervin Clark, died on Sunday, 28 December, at his home in Littleton, Colorado. He was 95 years old. 10th Mountain Division

Clark, a Londonderry, Vermont native and long-time Colorado resident, became a member of the Rocky Mountain Division of the NSP after World War II. He served as volunteer Patrol Director at Arapahoe Basin on weekends after leaving active duty with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. He also served as a patroller at Loveland, Berthoud Pass and Winter Park. He was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in 2001. Continue reading NSP and 10th Mountain Division Legend, Earl Clark, Dies at 95

Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

Longtime Aspen resident, Ski Patrol pioneer, 10th Mountain Division member and skiing instruction legend, Curt Chase, died in early June at 91 at his Colorado home. Chase, born on 3 October 1922 in Manchester, NH, lived and worked in Aspen for more than 40 years.

Curt Chase

Chase was a member of the University of New Hampshire ski team in the 1930s. He was also recruited by the National Ski Patrol in its early years to join the 10th Mountain Division and became a survival training instructor for the US Army in 1943. He later organized, trained and directed the Aspen Ski Patrol in 1946. Continue reading Ski Patrol Legend, Curt Chase, Dies at 91

Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Wolf Creek Ski Area Patroller Colin Drew Sutton was killed in a backcountry avalanche incident on 4 March 2014.

March 2014 Conejos Peak Avalanche Scene

According to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC), Sutton was in a group of four patrollers from Colorado’s Wolf Creek that were transported via helicopter to Pt. 12,505, which is approximately one mile west of Conejos Peak, and around 16 air miles SE of the Wolf Creek area where they typically Continue reading Wolf Creek Patroller Colin Sutton Killed in Backcountry Avalanche

Vail Founder’s Grandson Killed in Chutes Avalanche

The grandson of Vail’s Founder was killed in an avalanche in out-of-bounds terrain at the East Vail Chutes. Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) investigators were diverted from their study of a 2 January slide at Breckenridge, where there were no injuries, to the Vail scene.

Tony Seibert, 24, was killed in the Vail incident. He was the grandson of Vail founder Pete Seibert, and the son of Terry and Pete Seibert Jr. There were four others skiing with Seibert, one of whom was also injured. Continue reading Vail Founder’s Grandson Killed in Chutes Avalanche

Santiam Pass Patroller Killed in Solo Mount Hood Ascent

Long-time Santiam Pass ski patroller, Dr. Kinley K. Adams, was killed in a solo ascent of Mount Hood on 22 June 2013. Adams went missing on the mountain at some point after leaving Mount Hood’s Timberline Lodge at around 12:30 am that day. Mount Hood Leuthold Couloir Summit Route

He had previously made the ascent of Hood a number of times and was expected back in Salem, Oregon, that day by 4 pm, where he lived and worked as a dentist. A search began when he did not return. His body was not discovered until Saturday, 29 June, and his remains were transported down the mountain by rescuers that Sunday evening. Continue reading Santiam Pass Patroller Killed in Solo Mount Hood Ascent

Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

Highlighting the danger inherent to backcountry boarding and skiing, five industry professionals were killed in an avalanche at Loveland, the most tragic Colorado incident in 50 years. All were part of the Rocky Mountain High Backcountry Bash, an event that was put-on to help fund avalanche safety and the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC).

2012 Loveland Avalanche Incident

According to a report from the CAIC, a backcountry touring party of six, on splitboards and skis, was caught in an avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass. According to the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Department (CCC SD), the avalanche occurred on Saturday, 20 April 2013 at 1pm, on the north-northeast aspect of the Sheep Creek drainage of Loveland Pass, along US 6.

Four of the riders and one skier were killed. Each of those fatally injured was an expert boarder or skier, and was using the latest avalanche gear. Ski-Patrol.net analysis of CAIC data has found that 50% more people have been killed in the 2012-2013 season than the average of the preceding 3 seasons in Colorado. We have also found an alarming statistic that may be emerging in CAIC fatality data. While only 19.1% of skiers died (14 of 73) after being caught in an avalanche over the last 4 seasons, 37.93% of boarders died (11 of 29) after getting caught in an avalanche. Continue reading Colorado’s Worst Avalanche in 50 Years Claims Lives of 5 Industry Pros

Last First Tracks: Snowmass Memorial Held for Patsy Hileman

A memorial was held on 5 January for Patricia Mae “Patsy” Hileman of Snowmass Village, Colorado. Patsy, a 26-year veteran of the Aspen Ski Patrol, died in an avalanche on 30 December in the Ship’s Prow Glade, a backcountry skiing spot at Aspen’s Snowmass area. The memorial service celebrating her life was held on at the Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass Mountain. Snow Mass Ship's Prow Approach

Hileman appears to have inadvertently triggered a portion of the “crown” from a previous avalanche that pushed her off the edge. She was skiing in a section of the Snowmass backcountry that is not explicitly open to the skiing public due to its inherent dangers. A previous avalanche at that location had been triggered with explosives by the patrol on 27 December 2012, three days before Hileman’s incident. While the avalanche was very small, it appears to have been of sufficient size to sweep Hileman, an expert skier familiar with that area, off the cliff’s edge. Continue reading Last First Tracks: Snowmass Memorial Held for Patsy Hileman

Obituary: Theo Meiners, Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides Founder and Former NSP Northern Intermountain Division Avalanche Advisor

Theo Meiners, 59, a well-known Alaska heli-guide tour leader and snow science expert, died in an incident at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska on 20 September. Meiners fell more than 30 feet to his death when, according to witnesses, he appeared to be sliding-down the escalator rails between floors. Police are investigating the incident, and are seeking information from anyone that may have interacted with Meiners at the International Snow Science Workshop banquet being held at the facility that night.

Meiners worked during his career as a ski patrol trainer in Chile at Centro de Ski, El Colorado, and at Snow King in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He was the former NSP Avalanche Advisor for the Northern Intermountain Division. Continue reading Obituary: Theo Meiners, Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides Founder and Former NSP Northern Intermountain Division Avalanche Advisor

Obituary: Service Planned for Loveland Ski Patroller, Mark Gage

Mark GageNSP Rocky Mountain Division Alpine Toboggan Supervisor, Mark Gage, died on Wednesday August 29 of a heart attack while on a mountain bike ride in Breckenridge, Colorado.

Gage, 53, was a 25-year member of the Loveland Volunteer ski patrol and in his “day job” was a community development director and senior planner for the Town of Frisco, Colorado. His wife Karen is also a member of the patrol. Colleagues, friends and family are invited to celebrate Mark’s life at 2:30 pm on September 15th at the Loveland Basin Lodge. The facility is located at Loveland Ski Area, exit 216, I-70, Colorado. A reception will follow the Saturday service. Continue reading Obituary: Service Planned for Loveland Ski Patroller, Mark Gage

Obituary: Service Planned for Copper Mountain Patroller

Copper Mountain, Colorado ski patroller Rocky Scott Miles died on 5 August in a house fire in Fenton Falls, Ontario, Canada. A memorial service will be held at the outdoor chapel by Solitude Station at Copper Mountain Ski Resort on Friday, 17 August at 10:30 AM.

Miles, 31, was a long-time resident of Summit County and an eight-year patroller at Copper Mountain. He is survived by his wife, Cecilia, and his three-year-old son, Oliver. Miles is originally from Abilene, Kansas, and graduated from Thornton High School in 1999. He has lived in Colorado since 1983. In addition to his ski patrol duties, he was a ski instructor and a firefighter at the Keystone Fire Department and ski tech at Precision Ski & Golf. He also worked for Alem International as a senior product specialist, marketing high-end exotic cars. He was also a jazz trumpet and guitar player, and a charcoal artist. Continue reading Obituary: Service Planned for Copper Mountain Patroller

Obituary: Former Lookout Pass Idaho Patroller, Bill Fout

Former Lookout Pass, Idaho, Patroller, William Charles (Bill) Fout, died at 89 on 9 July in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Originally from Andes, Montana, Fout served as a pilot in the in the Army, flying as a spotter on search and rescue missions over China in WW II. After the war, he worked for Washington Water Power (now Avista) as a lineman for more than 30 years. Bill Fout

Fout was chairman of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, and taught first aid and CPR to high school students. He also taught hunter safety courses. He skied with his children and became a member of the Lookout Pass Ski Patrol and taught at the mountain’s free ski school. He was also involved with the Idaho Ski Club at Lookout Pass, and also previously managed the lodge and worked in mountain operations. Continue reading Obituary: Former Lookout Pass Idaho Patroller, Bill Fout

Obituary: Nub’s Nob Patroller, Daniel Somalski

Daniel R. Somalski, 58, a Patroller at Nub’s Nob, Harbor Springs Michigan, died of Pancreatic Cancer on 25 July 2012.

Somalski served as an Alpine Ski Patroller and was involved with the NSP on the divisional, regional and local levels. He began his association with ski patrolling in 1986, ultimately reaching Certified Patroller status in 1995. He was awarded Outstanding Administrative Patroller in 1997-98. He was was a Northern Michigan Region Section Chief, and was involved in testing and training for the organization for many years. His awards include three Yellow Merit stars and numerous Certificates of Appreciation. He received his National Appointment in 1997. Continue reading Obituary: Nub’s Nob Patroller, Daniel Somalski

Obituary: Body of Former Stevens Pass Patroller Recovered from Mount Rainier

The body of Nick Hall, 33, was recovered from Mount Rainier on 5 July 2012. Hall perished in a 2,600′ fall onto Rainier’s Winthrop Glacier from 13,800′ while rescuing climbers from Emmons Glacier on 21 June. Hall had just placed the 4 injured climbers from Texas into a rescue helicopter for their evacuation, when a gust of wind pushed him over the edge. He was in the process of securing an empty litter to the helicopter prior to departure.

Rangers made it to the lower incident scene that day and attempted recovery then, and again on 28 June, but had to call-off the missions due to Avalanche danger, high winds and unfavorable weather conditions at the 11,000’+ location.

Hall had been a climbing Ranger on Mount Rainier for four years. Six rescue workers from the 214th Air Regiment of Joint Base Lewis McChord used a Chinook helicopter with the assistance of a Hughes 530 from Olimpia’s Northwest Helicopters for the evacuation of Hall to Sunrise. He was then transferred to an ambulance for transport to the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. Preparations had been made following the incident to secure him in an anchored litter for later transport. Avalanche rescue dog, Cirrus, from Chrystal Mountain Ski Patrol was used to locate the body under several feet of recent snow. Cirrus is owned by Crystal patrollers Andrew and Michelle Longstreth. Continue reading Obituary: Body of Former Stevens Pass Patroller Recovered from Mount Rainier