Bill Serniuk, aka 'Blitzo,' Dies from Cancer Battle

Blitzo in his natural habitat. Photo courtesy Locker Smith

8/22/13 - Bill Serniuk, a climbing photographer who went by the nickname of “Blitzo,” passed away early on August 17 after battling cancer.

Blitzo began climbing around age 21 and experimented with forms of photography in his teens. From the 1970s to early this year, he traveled around the U.S., visiting almost 40 states, photographing countless climbers and climbing spots. It wasn't long before he earned a reputation as a great climbing shooter.

Throughout his career, he was friends with and photographed some of climbing's most prominent figures, including Warren Harding, Dean Potter, Dan Osman, and John Bachar. He aimed for the most cutting-edge ascents, capturing many first ascents on film.

Fond of all historical climbing areas, Blitzo was a particularly significant presence in Yosemite. He loved the geology and landscapes of Joshua Tree, Tahoe, Colorado, and Wyoming. He also was one of the top three contributors on Mountain Project.

A shot by Blitzo of Cave Rock, Nevada.

Blitzo’s photos won dozens of awards, and his images can be found in many publications, including Climbing, Rock & Ice, REI, Mountain Tools, and Black Diamond. He photographed for and contributed to an array of guidebooks—mostly in California.

In addition to his passion for photography, friends remember Blitzo for his unique humor, encyclopedic intelligence, and vast knowledge and enjoyment of beer. He had an appreciation for music and terrible horror films. He ran the photography lab at Tahoe’s Caesar’s Palace, was buddies with Liberace and George Burns, once witnessed Dionne Warwirck pass out, and drank champagne with the famed Engelbert Humperdick.

One of Blitzo’s best friends, Locker Smith, recalls “Blitzo’s love for life (beer!), climbing, and photography was as huge as his personality was!”


Previous Comments

When I call out "n00b", there is only silence now. Such a unique and cool individual. "Dude's the Mack!".

locker - 09/07/2013 8:10:13

One of the coolest guys I ever met. Always welcomed me in his home during those cold jtree nights for a warm couch, refreshments and endless stories I will keep and cherish. Though the elite athletes help the sport evolve, it's dudes like Blitzo that are the glue that keep it together....gonna miss my man yet I'm such a better one becuase of Bill Sernuik....

Frankie the Wolf - 08/28/2013 5:27:58

God bless you my friend!

Michael Paul - 08/24/2013 9:05:42

Keep the humor coming with your maker Billy!

Karen Bailey - 08/24/2013 1:04:06

My condolences and godspeed to your next destination!

Manny - 08/24/2013 9:14:39

Chi Piska Lachike BLOOT.. Thanks for all your wonderful TALENT...!!!!

Ron Anderson - 08/23/2013 10:28:11

I always enjoyed Blitzo's photo's on mountain project! i'm gunning for his number 3 position!!!!

blitzo - 08/23/2013 6:33:55

Though I only climbed with Blitzo once and got to hang out with him a bit more, they were special times. We miss you, Billy!

Steve Williams - 08/23/2013 5:32:41

Met blitzo a few times while he was "camp host" of the pit while spending time with phil Couldnt imagine two bigger personalities cant believe its been such a short time & he's gone. He's made a large mark on the climbing world & will be forever missed!

Andrew Thomas - 08/23/2013 5:30:17

I met my wife because of my friendship with Bill - miss you, my friend.

Erik Wolfe - 08/23/2013 4:00:38

Great photographer. Condolences to his friends and family.

Eric Rhicard - 08/23/2013 2:16:47

God speed lad, all climbers loved Blitzo ..

Larry Bruce - 08/23/2013 12:51:55

He was cared for till his end by the Love, devotion and dedication from his close friends Susan, Locker, Russ and Todd. We should all be so lucky When our time comes to have such great friends take the time and care for us! Peace

Ron Gomez - 08/23/2013 12:45:49

God Speed My Friend:)

Mike Fogarty - 08/23/2013 12:31:17

Dude's the Mack. Our lives were fuller with him in it.

Cottonside and Louie - 08/23/2013 12:23:37

Will always remember him and all the great times we had. Billy was the best. His photos will live on for climbing generations to come.

Beth Shilliday - 08/23/2013 11:47:17

The late great. No pain ,flying free. Hasta la próxima vez, my friend.

Tony Yeary - 08/23/2013 10:56:02

Blitzo and his photography will always hold imagination and love for nature in all of our hearts,cheers to Blitzo's life and everyone he touched.

Johnny K. - 08/23/2013 10:17:51

Dude was the Mack! He will be missed BIG TIME!

locker - 08/23/2013 10:11:29

Forever in our hearts our friend.

Susan Peplow - 08/23/2013 9:52:01

We miss you , Blitzo..

todd gordon - 08/23/2013 9:30:04