April 3rd, 2006, was a sad day in the world of skiing. At around 4:45 pm, Doug Coombs and Chad VanderHam dropped dozens of meters from a cliff and died in la Meije in La Grave, France. They were skiing a steep couloir when the accident happened. A detailed report of the accident was also published on Pistehors website. Chad dropped off the cliff first and other skiers tried to help him. Doug fell off the cliff while he was trying to find out where Chad was. Doug died immediately but Chad was alive when he was found. A bit later he died as well.
Their passing is a big loss for the world of skiing. Doug Coombs was my skiing idol as was Trevor Petersen, another backcountry skiing superstar who also died in Chamonix in 1996. Doug was an inspiring skier and I loved his way of living. I loved the way Doug skied, his fantastic technique and his joy of skiing. Like Trevor Petersen, Doug was a skier who gave me great inspiration and motivation to go skiing the backcountries in the Alps. It is devastating that both my idols lost their lives so young.
Doug and Trevor lived their lives the way they wanted to and they got all the joy and fun mountains can provide. They enjoyed themselves, even though they sometimes took huge risks. They lived their lives the way I have always dreamed of living mine. I respect that. Rest in peace.
The picture above is the last picture of Doug and Chad, taken just a moment before the accident. Chad skiing, Doug on the left side.
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