Memorial event was held this past Saturday for Randy Udall, well known environmentalist, pioneer distance skier, all-around mountain guy. Location was the Outward Bound basecamp facility near Marble, Colorado.
Randy had a long history with Outward Bound. He was field staff for a decade, and caretaker of the Marble camp for a few years. Several hundred people showed up so it was necessary to coordinate car shuttles up the narrow 4×4 road to the camp. Beautiful to see the Outward Bound tradition of service has so inculcated Randy’s network, as volunteer family and friends did everything from clearing loose rocks from the road to cleaning up the morning after. The Randy stories of course flew fast and furious.
I listened wide eyed as one of Randy’s ski partners described exiting the California Sierra during a 12-day mega storm and gigantic avalanche cycle, only to have a mining operation hurling dynamite charges above their heads as they skied the last bit to safety. “We were shouting our heads off — finally they heard us and quit shooting the Avalauncher…”
During the formal portion of the event, Randy’s daughter Tarn shared about how the burly mountain man schooled them in the hills and on the rivers. “During our backpacking trips,” Tarn related, “Randy would get way ahead of us then stop and get all comfortable waiting for us, making tea and eating tortillas while we struggled up the trail. Of course, as soon as we showed he’d pack up and start moving again, leaving us with the choice: tortillas like Dad, or just keep moving and trying to keep up!” Classic Outward Bound instructor behavior…but in Randy’s case most certainly done with a chuckle and a smile as he watched his kids learning to make their own way in the wild.
Tarn also related a few of Randy’s choice philosophical slogans for a successful life. My favorites: “Live solidly in your challenge zone,” and more in the backcountry specific genre, “Stay dry, stay fed, and feed the moral meter.” What a man.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.