The world of winter sports was left reeling yesterday in wake of the tragic news that ski legends JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson had lost their lives in an avalanche whilst out in Chile. Not long after this, news began circulating that another fellow big mountain rider, Liz Daley, had also sadly died in South America. The Tacoma, Washington local was reportedly killed in an avalanche this Monday near El Chantél, Argentina.
A familiar face in Chamonix, France, Daley was a highly regarded AMGA guide, professional split-boarder and generally regarded as one of the most influential women in the ski industry (see Backcountry Magazine’s intriguing interview with her from February). Similar to the situation with Auclair and Fransson, social media has been set ablaze with touching tributes to the much loved and respected figure. Fellow Washington based photographer, Jason Hummel, left an incredibly touching tribute on his Facebook page where he summed Daley thus:
“She was an incredible woman. Funny. A mountain guide. Strong. Tough as nails. An inspiration. She was the light in the room. The center of attention. The spark that lit us all on fire. She loved the mountains. She loved snowboarding. She was loved by so, so many. She was a friend to everyone” – Jason Hummel
The mountains can be a very cruel mistress and this week has proven disastrous for the world of winter sport. Us here at Pow! want to wish all the very best to the friends and families of all those involved in recent events.
Whilst little comfort at the moment, the inspiration of these three pivotal characters will live on. They lived life large, we salute them.
“You dream up what you want to accomplish in your life, I don’t know that many people get a chance to fulfil that” – Bill Briggs (Steep, 2007).
**October 3rd Update**
To capture the essence of Liz Daley, the first thing that comes to mind for many of us is her incredibly brilliant and heart-warming smile. Out of all the beautiful and unique things she provided this world, the most precious are the tenderness and feeling of serenity that her presence provided each and every one us. I’ve heard so many people describe how deeply she touched and inspired them even if they had only met once. This fact, and the deep and unbreakable bonds she has developed with her friends and loved ones is a testament to her truly remarkable ability to spread love on this planet and share her incredible passion for life and the mountains. She was a true Angel.
To those that knew her more intimately, her passing has provided an extraordinary challenge to us yet an opportunity to appreciate her magnificence as a person and reflect on the gifts she has given us during her time with us. Liz was blessed with an uncanny natural ability to brighten the darkest times, provide warmth in the coldest of places, and offer her seemingly endless supply of unconditional love and support for everyone around her.
Liz always valued family strongly and has provided remarkable support to her family during times of need. She was a pillar of stability and a beacon of light in a world that can often be unstable or dark. I know that her devotion to her family will be reflected during this challenging time and the strong bonds she built will only strengthen over time as her memory lives on in our hearts.
My life intersected hers in Bellingham, Washington where we both attended school many years ago. Her unimaginable zest for life and pure sense of adventure were so incredibly important in bringing us together. We were able to share and develop our skills in the mountains together over the years as we lived in Washington, Utah, and finally Chamonix. From the very beginning Liz demonstrated her passion and stoke with eternal commitment and natural tenacity. I knew that she was in this for life. As our love for each other grew over many unforgettable adventures all over the world, it became clear to me that she was here on this planet to inspire others and share her unique brand of passion for life and the mountains. That unmistakable Liz Daley touch was always there–from those crazy days playing kickball to a desperate snow cave on Denali.
For those who worked with her as a guide and had the opportunity to journey into the wild with her, it was so clearly obvious that she was following her calling. She was at ease with people in the mountains and her sense of peace and belonging was projected to everyone she came into the contact with. Over the last few years I’ve heard so much touching feedback from her former clients, partners, and colleagues describing how she positively impacted many lives in such short amount of time. Her blossoming career as a guide was defined by her conservative approach to the mountains and her desire to come back at the end of the day. She took this mentality to heart as she shared places of indescribable beauty with her friends as well as complete strangers.
Living without Liz will be a massive challenge for all of us. I asked her to be my wife just over two months ago (the pictures I have posted are from shortly after I asked her) with the intention of spending a long life together and supporting her unconditionally in her endeavors to spread her love and happiness in wild places. Though our time was cut short, the lessons and gifts she showered us with will be indelibly etched into our souls. If there is one thing that I am sure of during this unimaginably difficult time, it’s that Liz would want us to cherish one another, follow our hearts, and pursue our passions to the ends of the earth.
I love you so much Liz and we will never forget you. Your legacy will live on in all of us.
I also can’t tell you all how thankful I am of your unwavering support. I can’t wait to see you all soon.
Davide De Masi