Doug Coombs Killed in France Yesterday — fell down steep terrain at La Grave

Post by blogger | April 4, 2006      

I’m stunned and grieved to hear this, we’re so sad, Doug Coombs is a hero to everyone in our family and to every backcountry skier I know. Sadly ironic that we’d just posted about that old poster of him a few blogs ago. I thought about removing it, but it’s cool so we’ll leave it up in his honor (but I’ll re-word the light hearted ribbing). Incomplete preliminary reports indicate Coombs was skiing steep terrain with several others. One of his companions started down first and fell down the mountain after hitting an ice patch (and later died as well). Coombs fell during (or while preparing for) his descent to help.

Doug Coombs Memorial Fund

Black Diamond Verdict backcountry skis
From Andrew McLean: “…this is one of my favorite Doug photos. It was taken in 1996 when we tried to ski the Otterbody Couloir on the Grand Teton. We didn’t make it that day, but he and Mark Newcomb returned a few weeks later and completed the descent.”

Here is a preliminary report from the Valdez Heli Guides website:


Doug Coombs was killed in the mountains today.

This afternoon we learned of the tragic accident in La Grave, France.

We are still gathering details and will inform you as we learn more.

Words can’t describe the loss his friends feel now. His impact on Alaska Heli Skiing, Alpine Guiding, and just plain fun-hogging is immeasurable.

Send you thoughts and prayers to Emily and David Douglas Coombs. They will need you support and love for a long time.


Don Sharaf, Doug Workman, Scott Raynor, Kirsten Kremer, Paul Turecki, Jeff Zell, Eric Henderson, and the many others who had the privilege to work, ski, and smile with Doug over the years.



6 Responses to “Doug Coombs Killed in France Yesterday — fell down steep terrain at La Grave”

  1. Carol Dandy Beckley April 3rd, 2006 8:12 pm

    Dear Emily , My entire family is devastated by the news of Doug’s death. Our hearts break for you and little David. Words cannot express our tremendous sadness we all feel. We will keep you in our thoughts and prayers that you will be strengthened by those around you who also loved Doug.
    With love and sumpathy,
    your cousin Carol

  2. Michael Pearlman April 3rd, 2006 8:27 pm

    The entire Jackson Hole community is stunned and saddened right now. Though we’re all still grieving at the loss of such a warm, caring and enthusiastic mountain-lover, the memories Doug has left us with will never fade. His impact on ski mountaineering is immeasurable and his presence in the Tetons and around the world will be sorely missed.

  3. Giovanni April 4th, 2006 3:57 am

    Sour … I remember when I was in Livigno and the Burton Snowboard open was cancelled for a day as the news of Craig Kelly killed by avalanche came in:

  4. Tom Guaraldo April 4th, 2006 3:14 pm

    I was floored when I just heard the news. As a kid, Doug was always one of the handful of skiers I looked up to. I have had his posters on my walls for years and I loved see his pics in magazines and his segments in films. This a huge loss for the skiing community and even more so for his family. Skiing lost one of its biggest heros and it wont be the same. My prayers go out to his family. Doug will be missed.

  5. Debra McGhan April 6th, 2006 10:40 pm

    Dear Emily,
    I only met Doug a few times while covering the World Extreme Skiing Championships for Outside Magazine. While I didn’t know him well, everyone I’ve come to know and love in the Valdez skiing community knows and loves Doug. My heart and prayers go out to you in a commiserate way as one who also lost my husband in a tragic accident when my children were very young. May your memories bring you comfort and the strength needed to be fulfilled with the time and love you did share.

    I have dedicated the past two years of my life to helping create the Be Snow Smart program for the North America Outdoor Institute so that others may enjoy the mountains in the spirit of men like Doug Coombs, and have the luck and grace of God to ski another day.

  6. Gary Scharg September 6th, 2006 12:20 pm

    I met Doug at Steep Camp in JH in the early 90’s. He explained how to ski “Expert Chutes” and “Toilet Bowl” and somehow I got down them. The stronger memories are of people he skied with regularly, seeing their faces after a day with him…Dave Fett after poaching Rock Springs, Green River, Zero-G….Emily after a powder day, just aglow…Tom Turiano after Doug tapped him to teach steep camp…Rick Armstrong and Holly looking up to Doug and Emily like parents…No other skier spread so much joy and love of the sport and advancing it than Doug. That will live on in the hearts and minds of all who knew and skied with him.

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