Farewell Lock Miller, Backcountry Industry Icon

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | October 2, 2015      
Lock Miller doing some of that fishing he loved. Mike Fitzgerald photo.

Lock Miller doing some of that fishing he loved. Mike Fitzgerald photo.

We had some basic ski touring content to bring up today, but the eulogy below just rolled in from Steve Christie. We are sad to report the death of backcountry industry icon Lock Miller.

Way back in the 1980s, Lock was the first North American retailer to “officially” import Dynafit tech bindings. He was instrumental in supplying test bindings to me and just a few other outdoor writers, who then instigated the slow burn that shifted North American backcountry skiing from emphasis on telemark to that of fixed-heel randonnee AT bindings. He was also so much more. Check out Steve’s eulogy below (edited and condensed).

by Steve Christie
Lock Miller passed away peacefully on October 1, after a 4-year bout with prostate cancer.

Most people know Lock from his days as the owner of the Marmot Mountain Works retail store chain that dominated the West Coast specialty retail scene from 1976 to 2013. In the early years these stores were some of the few places in North America where you could purchase or order obscure alpine touring ski equipment that was only available in Europe. It should also be noted that Lock was the first importer and distributor of the Dynafit binding and Pomoca skin brands in North America, foundational to the current massive boom in backcountry skiing popularity.

Lock’s other accomplishments are storied and hint at a life lead as a 20th and 21st century Renaissance figure: He was a partner in establishing the Marmot brand. He was a young Outward Bound Instructor in 1968, earned one third of a law degree but left law school for the outdoors, explored remote Yukon rivers by boat, caught copious amounts of Chinook (King) Salmon over the last 50 years all over the north Pacific coast, and generally enjoyed a life well-lived in the Pacific Northwest. He was also an early tester of Gore-tex products, specifically on a 3.5 week 1976 ski traverse of the Juneau ice fields.

But this is really only a glimpse into what we know about Lock. His close friends point out that he was willing to stop what he was doing at any given moment and help problem-solve complex business situations, regardless of the industry. His loyalty to his friends was also described as being one of his main attributes. And it is agreed that Lock’s thrifty, shrewd and intelligent business practices made him very successful during his career in the outdoor business.

I will leave you with this quote by Lock from August of 2015, that sums up his attitude about life: “If your boat only has a 600lb weight limit you can get 2,000lbs into it if you know what you’re doing.”

-Steve Christie, Director of Sales, Backcountry Access


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2 Responses to “Farewell Lock Miller, Backcountry Industry Icon”

  1. Wookie October 3rd, 2015 5:51 am

    Didn’t know the guy, but I think that quote will stick. RIP

  2. Rick Stewart January 5th, 2016 9:57 pm

    I went to (private) high school with Lock and in fact named my first boy after him. A true adventurer, unlike the rest of us. We talked at length about how to get umpteen barrels of fuel onto his boat … I doubt he stopped at 2000 lbs, ever.

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