Remembering Chris Rudolph

chris rudolph by chase jarvis

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.

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30 Responses to Remembering Chris Rudolph

  1. Melvin February 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    Hey Chase,

    I’m sorry for your loss man, also my condolences for his family and friends.

    Melvin

  2. Martin February 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Chase,

    I’m sorry for your loss and my condolences goes out to his family and friends as well. Being at 30, life is shorter than we would eve realize until events like these occur. I just turned 28 two days ago and to hear something like this makes me realize I need to do much as I can and do what I want in life before my time comes. It’s so crazy how short life is…

    Martin

  3. Jay February 26, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    I’m sorry for your loss, Chase. So young. Martin said it well. Live while you can. Life can be short.

    I’m certain your words were welcomed along with your emotion.

    I hope time heals quickly for you.

  4. Eddie Babaian February 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Hey Chase, I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend Chris and I’m sure his family is hard pressed to deal with this sadness. Risk/Reward is a tough balance to handle, but if it’s what you love to do, you can’t let it inhibit you from doing it. Much like with the recent loss of Sara Burke, it’s hard to except when you make the ultimate sacrifice doing what you love to do. I know from my years in Seattle that Stevens Pass is thrilling and dangerous, which is why its so addicting.

  5. Jonathan February 26, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I’m sorry for your loss Chase, My condolences to Chris’s family and friends. People come and go out of our lives. But there impact is forever!

    - JR

  6. Scott Rinckenberger February 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Chase, thanks for sharing this. Let’s all let Chris continue to be an inspiration to live to the fullest. And let’s be safe out there.

  7. Yair Haim February 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    Sorry for your loss.

  8. Will February 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    Dear Chase, Scott, and everyone else on your side of things close to Chris,

    Two years, five months ago (almost to the day), one of my best friends was killed while hiking the Grand Tetons. And like Chris, Eliot was a man who loved the outdoors, and was in his own element at the time of his passing.

    It’s hard to fathom and make sense of the loss that is left behind when such an amazing person we once knew seemingly disappears. It’s unfair, cruel… it’s bullshit. There is nothing that can explain the incredible void that remains.

    At the service, I listened as friends and family of his poured their hearts out, explaining how Eliot touched each of them. “Made me feel special”… “always cheered me up”… “made me a better person”… “helped me when I was at my lowest”… Perhaps there was nothing that could justify the loss, but it was crystal clear that the impact Eliot left in this world would extend far beyond his own 24 years; he truly lived on in all of us, and he would want us — WANTS us — to keep his spirit alive. Your words, and those of Scott, lead me to feel that Chris was the same.

    My condolences to all those affected by Chris’ passing. I hope that once the pain subsides, that you too can go through each day feeling as if he is at your side.

    Will

    Will

  9. Tyson February 26, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    gosh Chase I am sorry you guys have experienced so much loss lately. Your post about Sarah was touching. Chris sounds like a great guy. Its always terrible when someone in the ski/ snowboard community is lost in this way. Keep your head up buddy.

  10. Dee February 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Chase,

    Sorry for your lost…Also, my deepest condolences to Chris and other victim family. Hope they be strong in this difficult moment

  11. steveb February 26, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    I am sorry for the loss of your pal, and for his family’s loss.
    There is no sense to it, it sucks – plain and simple.

    Love life more, sounds like he’s the kind of guy who’d have wanted you to.

    peace

  12. David Moore February 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    Sorry to hear about Chris. But thanks so much for sharing the incredible photos. What a legacy to leave.

  13. Libby February 27, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    Part of him lives on with you. Remember that. My sincere condolences. -Libby

  14. Jorge February 27, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Sorry to hear, Chase.. warm feelings for you, his family and other friends.

  15. Mike Folden February 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Beautifully written Scott. Truly a sad tale.

  16. Bob McKerrell February 27, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    Deepest condolences to you, your crew and Chris’s family/friends

  17. Wenzel February 28, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Hi Chase,

    I was at Chris’ celebration of life last week and wanted to thank you for what you said as well. You got people stoked on the amazingness that was Rudolph. I was also skiing with Chris on his last run, an honor, yet also tough to cope with.

    I was wondering if you sell prints of the pics you took of Rudolph? Perhaps charge a little extra and send the money over to NWAC?

  18. Rich Gaskill February 28, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Hi Chase,

    Yes, I was shocked to hear this too. Life is often much too short. My heartfelt condolences to you and Chris’ family.

    Rich

  19. kevin February 29, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    my dad died when he was 32 years old and i was just seven years old
    so i anderstand why your sad

    im 12 years

  20. kevin February 29, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    i anderstand your sad, when i was 7 i lost my dad (31)
    butt when i take pictures i dont think so much about it
    and i love to take pictures its one of the things i lovemost to do
    like taking pictures of the forest and mauntains
    and other things

  21. Jeff March 1, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    Another trail blazer lost way too soon in life, RIP Chris may you tear up those powder trails in the sky.

    Condolences Chase.

    Jeff

  22. Chris March 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    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.

  23. Kevin Younger March 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    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.
    Kevin

    Here’s an amazing photo of Nate shredding in Bear Creek by another good friend, Ben Knight:
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=45198453482&set=a.43315703482.57276.515223482&type=1&ref=nf

    One of the Denver news stations recently came down and did a follow up piece about Nate with his wife Hilary

    http://www.9news.com/news/article/253818/188/Widow-of-avalanche-victim-remembers-husband-cautions-backcountry-skiers

  24. Will Austin April 11, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    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….

  25. Adolfo Lirette November 15, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Thanks for that article

  26. Cristobal Hefley December 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Thanks a lot for sharing this post. Definitely people will find this as very helpful.

  27. Ben Kevan January 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Thanks for the article and kind words about Chris. He is a great guy. I wish more people could’ve know him.

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