Last week, I lost a dear, dear friend.
Many of you probably heard about the fatal avalanche at Stevens Pass, WA, that claimed three lives. It made international news. My close pal Chris Rudolph was one of the victims. At just 30 years old, he was one of the kindest, most generous, talented people I knew. He loved the mountains. He loved to ski in the rain. He was the Ambassador of all things Rad.
I had the humble, amazing opportunity to work with Chris on these sorts of photos, on this book, oh, and he’s in this book too. He was a star. He will always be an inspiration.
Here is his Facebook page if you’re interested to see what a few of his friends thought of him.
He had a saying. “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” That is something we should truly aspire to. He will be so deeply, deeply missed.
I spoke at his memorial, but I was a wreck. Winding my way through a few stories about Chris – some heartfelt, some funny, some just to tell the world. Scott also spoke, but he was smart enough to read something he’d written in the days after Chris’ passing. It’s just beautiful and it’s preserved in writing, so I’ll leave you with Scotty’s words about Chris. RIP:
Our Friend Chris Rudolph – An Amplifier of Life
In a parallel universe, Chris, Jim Jack, Johnny and the rest of the crew skied safely and ecstatically down to the highway. The Stevens Pass van that Chris would surely have had en route would load them up and deliver them back to the resort in ecstasy and disbelief of how epic and how easy it all was. I know this, because I’ve been on that van ride. I’ve been at the bar afterwards as we all raised a glass to Chris for facilitating this finite slice of heaven. If we could only have realized how finite it would really be.
Chris and I shared many of these beautiful moments. Skiing, celebrating, making music, working, traveling, exploring, planning and giving freely of the gift of joy. He was a man with whom I had more in common than nearly anyone else in my life. Being around him gave me the feeling that my actions and motivations in life were of the highest tier, because the same actions and motivations were his.
My perspective on this is not unique. Chris served as an amplifier of life, in full support of anything positive, brave or inspired. For the people with whom he connected, Chris was a motivator, a collaborator and a model for fully living. A life more fully and joyfully lived creates stronger bonds. My dear friend Chris Rudolph created more of these bonds with more people than anyone I can think of.
Yesterday while in the midst of living his creed, Chris was killed. When he died he was in his element; on skis, in the mountains, on his favorite run, sharing the wealth with his close friends and a crew of people experiencing the place for the first time. This was Chris Rudolph at his finest.
What Chris has left for us is a profound sense of loss that is more burdensome and acute than many of us have experienced before. But more importantly, he’s left us a guide for interacting with the world around us. We’re left with the knowledge that we have a small window of opportunity in this life to forge friendships, to inspire, to live and to love. It’s time to open the floodgates and let it all fly. It’s what Chris would do.
Thanks for the article and kind words about Chris. He is a great guy. I wish more people could’ve know him.
Just seeing this now, sending my condolences Chase and crew. I was skiing in Montana when I heard the news and immediately thought of you. Very, very sorry….
Chase & Scotty-
I’m just now catching back up with the blog. I didn’t realize you guys knew someone in the Steven’s slide. I’m really sorry for your loss. We heard about it here in Telluride fairly quickly (as did much of the snow community). It happened just a few days after we lost Nate Soules here in Bear Creek in a slide in Contention, so I understand what you’re going through. Nate was a truly amazing guy who I, honestly, don’t think I ever saw without a smile on his face in the 5 years I knew him. He definitely inspired people to make the most of life and was always someone you were happy to run into around town. He had recently stopped his job with the resort to work for his wife’s business because it meant he could spend more time with Hilary and especially more time with their son Ben, taking him to the skatepark almost every day during the summer and skating with more enthusiasm and spirit than all the ten year old skate kids there combined. A true lover of life. Sounds kind of similar to how you guys have described Chris. I’m sorry I never got the chance to know him. He seems like he would’ve been a great person to spend time with. It’s terrible to have such amazing people taken from us, especially so young. It seems like the only thing you can do is remember that your life is so much better because of the time you were able to spend with them and to go on living and take everyday you’re given as a gift.
Again, I’m really sorry guys.
Here’s an amazing photo of Nate shredding in Bear Creek by another good friend, Ben Knight:
One of the Denver news stations recently came down and did a follow up piece about Nate with his wife Hilary
Thanks for sharing Chase, very tough thing to go through. I only had the pleasure of sharing a fews beers with Rudolph a couple times at UPS. He was great friends with a very close friend of mine and I feel terrible for all who knew him. Take care man, and I hope everyone finds some solace knowing Rudolph went out doing what he absolutely loved.
Another trail blazer lost way too soon in life, RIP Chris may you tear up those powder trails in the sky.