Gary died this week, killed in an avalanche. The link is the best write-up I’ve found so far.
CAIC will do a report on the death and you’ll be able to find it here. The initial report makes it appear that consequential terrain is a key component of the accident. I can picture a spring snow slab laying across a 45-degree, damp rock slab.
I’ll let the experts tell you more about the accident. I suspect the report will publish early next week.
Like Andy, Gary’s death will expand far beyond his immediate circle. Their deaths are a reminder how much we impact people far beyond our day-to-day experience.
The world loves people who are kind to strangers.
When I decided to figure out Vail Mountain, Gary was the first person to be kind to me. I used to drop by his shop and try to learn something. He was ALWAYS generous with his time and experience. He had a nice way of steering me into making safer choices.
So there’s a lesson => set your life up so you have time to share your unique knowledge and experience.
Gary was never too busy to share the best parts of his life. From the first time I walked into his shop, he had time for me.
The men dying this ski season are coming from the best-of-the-best in American Ski Mountaineering. They are making reasonable decisions. I haven’t read one report where I was shaking my head and thinking, “how could they do that?”
Another lesson => when the best are dying – the rest of us should pay attention to what is implied about the nature of the game being played. I wrote the same thing last year after a wet snow avy killed a skier near Crested Butte.
When your friends are dying, doing what you do, pay attention.
Look deeply into the need you are seeking to fill. There’s almost certainly a lower consequence way to have a life with meaning.
Finally, my Dropbox is filled with PDFs of Gary’s best writing (the Denali 2019 stuff is great). Gary took the time to share his successes, mistakes and adventures. Skiing the Messner Couloir in Alaska is a fun read.
The lesson, for me, is to keep writing – even when I’m feeling a little flat.
The picture at the top is the first sunrise after Gary died.
Like everyone we lost over the last 12 months, we never know when we are starting our last year.