Steve Romeo and Chris Onufer died in an avalanche in Grand Teton National Park this past week. I had not yet met Chris but the loss of my good pal Romeo is gut-wrenching. I send love to their families, all of their friends, the Jackson community, and the ski community as a whole.
Just a few short days before the slide, I stayed with Steve at his place in Jackson. We were planning for our upcoming expedition to Baffin Island this May with Glen Poulson, John Morrision, Chris Onufer, and a few others. Steve and Chris were later additions to our team roster but in typical Steve fashion/passion, he had already bought a Baffin book, logged in waypoints for couloir objectives, and was very worried about my ability to train in the Wasatch right now (due to poor snow conditions).
Steve and I went for a great ski tour in the Park. The unfathomable turn was that the outing was my first since the Stevens Pass avalanche, in which many friends were involved and some perished. My old friend, Nate Soules, had also succumbed to an avalanche in Telluride a week before the Stevens accident. My heart was so heavy. I cried on the skin track and Steve consoled me. We talked most of that day about the depth of these experiences and our own personal perspectives on risk and choice, and life and death in the mountains.
Steve, to me, represented the true love of backcountry skiing. His blog was his vehicle through which to express that passion. He shared beta and it was all from the complete joy of sharing epic days out in the mountains. He thrived out there. Many people won’t ever know just one of the kind of days he had almost every day.
He shied away from the limelight and crowds. I tried to get him to come out to gatherings when I was in Jackson and he prefered to lay low, apres right after skiing, and then focus on the next day. He lived to ski and loved it.
“RandoSteve” was kind. He had a beautiful heart and he was generous. He neither criticized nor spoke bad words about anyone or anything. He reserved judgement as he knew all too well that none of us are perfect. He was a gentle soul.
He made one of the best homemade Lattes I have ever had. But, I drunk them too quickly, which he attributed to being a “girl thing” as his ex- “RandoKitty” – downed them as fast as I did.
He moved brilliantly and carefully through the mountains. He communicated well, he accepted others opinions, and he was a team player. He was a beautiful skier, a strong climber, and an inspiringly-motivated mountain man.
Cheers to you Romeo. You were one of the best. . . A shining star and my mountain brother. – “mtnsis”
Kim Havell, Jackson, WY
Originally posted March 12, 2012: http://havelltravels.com/my-mountain-brother/