April 9, 2006

"The majestic glaciated peak of La Meije... I imagined endless ski runs that would last a lifetime."

A 48-year lifetime.

4 comments:

David said...

His spirit is part of the mountain now!

Rest In Peace!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Don't know the translation, but his final skiing was done in "La Grave."

Gives me chills. And God bless his widow and young son.

Bruce Hayden said...

I noticed that they other guy who died, whose death was barely mentioned in the article, was from right around here in Dillon (CO). Keystone actually uses the Dillon post office a block from here for its mail.

These guys died doing what they most loved, skiing down cliffs. I am just surprised that Coombs still had enough testerone in his system for this sort of stupid stunt.

I spend a lot of my winters around this sort of guys. A lot of them die, and more probably should have, which I guess is the allure.

I will admit that when I was half my age, and even half Coombs' age, I was skiing some of the stuff that I am sure the other guy, VanderHam, probably learned on. But that is very mild compared to what these guys are doing today. The Alps are just a lot newer mountains than we have here in CO, and that means that much steeper.

I know I sound flippant, but the risks here are just insane. Sure Coombs was apparently fairly safety conscious. But how safety conscious can you be if you are skiing in this sort of terrain in the first place?

I should add that in small Summit County, where VanderHam came from, they now easily have more deaths every year from backcountry skiing, boarding, and snomobiling, than at the four ski areas in the county (three of them decently big). The CO legislature is rasing the fines for illegally doing this sort of thing from $300 to $1,000 because the cost of rescues is bankrupting the Sheriff's department and the rescue groups.

And, I should note, that people like Coombs are why the problem is getting so out of hand. They see films from his descents, and want to do the same.

Dawn said...

Coombs was a staple of early ski porn, especially from Gregg Stump, some Warren Miller, and lately Teton Gravity Research.

He'll be missed. A pioneer in his field. So sad.