I hate that I’m writing another of these posts. I hate that I could have written so many more of them than I have this year. I hate that another icon is gone, and there will never be another update from Rando Steve on TetonAT again.
I tuned into the unfolding story yesterday via a Facebook post. All morning long I was watching and refreshing the page and hoping that the search would end in some way other than it did. It’s funny how visceral the reaction to the loss of a member of the skiing community is, even when it’s someone I never met. It’s like a kick in the gut. I didn’t know Steve Romeo, or his friend Chris Onufer; and as skiers they occupied a different plane entirely from the one I’m in. But we shared that deep passion for the mountains, and the words and pictures on TetonAT that brought Steve’s adventures to the world made him someone that I admired, and respected, and will miss.
Outside Magazine published Steve’s last interview today, and it’s incredibly poignant given what happened just a few days later. It hurts reading his words about the inherent risk in avalanche terrain, and the choices we make about where and how we ski. It’s a really important reminder that the worst can happen to the very best. But in the end it’s not the commentary on risk or reward that I want to remember; it’s this.
“I think for people who really love to ski, and aren’t so caught up in the hype and the crowds, we’ll always be drawn to the backcountry. As long as you’re interested in fitness and getting a workout, why wouldn’t you want to climb up this untracked peak, on your own, and have this moment in the backcountry where you’re not being rushed to ski down the line? You can take whatever track you want, and always get fresh tracks, and have this orgasmic moment at the end, like, oh my god. And then to realize that this is possible every day, day in and day out. I think it is just inevitable that you gravitate to that as a skier.”
RIP Rando Steve and Chris Onufer, and my deepest condolences to all those who are missing you today and always.