Legendary ski mountaineer and Teton climbing guide Doug Coombs was killed yesterday near La Grave, France, along with American Chad VanderHam. Coombs, 48, was a pioneer of extreme skiing in Valdez, Alaska, where he made more than 300 first descents and twice won the World Extreme Skiing Championships. He founded Valdez Heli-Ski Guides and in recent years has run Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide from bases in Jackson, Wyoming, and La Grave. A UIAGM-certified guide, he worked for Exum Mountain Guides in the Tetons and other climbing destinations each summer and fall for nearly two decades. He leaves a wife and young son.
Coombs, VanderHam and friends reportedly were attempting a difficult couloir above the French resort when VanderHam, a 32-year-old from Colorado who had just received his AMGA ski-mountaineering guide certification, hit an icy patch and fell over a large cliff. As Coombs went to check on his friend, he too slipped and went over the precipice. Neither man could be revived by friends or rescuers.