Longtime Guide Bela Vadasz Has Died

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September 16, 2015 - Bela Vadasz, who founded Alpine Skills International in California in 1979 with his wife, Mimi, died unexpectedly on September 15 while undergoing a medical procedure. Vadasz was widely regarded as one of the most accomplished ski and climbing guides in Sierra Nevada history. He was presented with the AMGA’s Lifetime Achievement Ward in 2008.

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Vadasz was instrumental in the creation of the ski certification process in American mountain guiding, which led directly to American guides getting the opportunity for international certification through the IMFGA. Based in Truckee, California, but operating throughout the world, Alpine Skills has introduced countless people to backcountry skiing, rock climbing, and mountaineering. For nearly two decades, ending in 2001, Bela and Mimi Vadasz also operated a low-cost lodge at the top of Donner Pass, west of Truckee.

Dave Riggs, a longtime friend of the Vadasz family and sometime guide for Alpine Skills, said, "Bela was the born in Hungary, escaped the communist takeover with his parents, and ended up in San Francisco. His parents were avid backpackers, skiers, and mountain lovers, and he was introduced to the Sierra Nevada in all seasons at a young age."

Riggs said that Vadasz's proudest climbing achievement was the first American ascent of the Peuterey Integral, a very difficult, seemingly endless ridge climb up Mont Blanc, which he did with Mimi in 1988.

Vadasz' passions also included playing music and surfing. He leaves behind two sons along with his wife and friends. He was 62.