“When you’re totally tired, you’re cold, you’re out of food and you barely pull it off – you come home with a new level of confidence and understanding of yourself.” – Kip Garre
On April 26, 2011, Kip and his girlfriend, Allison Kreutzen, were buried in an avalanche in the Eastern Sierra Mountains while attempting to climb and ski the Split Couloir on Split Mountain.
For all of us who knew and worked closely with Kip, we understood what a special man he was and were inspired by his dreams and purity of his spirit. He was the crème of the crop…confident, skillful and committed, but what set him apart from the others was his energy, his enthusiasm, and above all, his humility. We will miss Kip and his sincere smile, but he will forever live on within in our hearts and within the fabric of the Mountain Hardwear brand.
Fellow Mountain Hardwear athlete and ski mountaineer Andrew McLean remembers the Kip that we will never forget. “Within an hour of first meeting Kip, I would have felt comfortable going anywhere in the world with him, and I don’t think I was alone in that impression. He was a very likeable, talented, humble, confident and inspiring person. We seemed to share an almost identical wavelength that made skiing together especially fun. Standing at the top of a peak, we could map out a quick plan, with a minimum amount of words, and it’d always come off exactly as it was mumbled.”
As an over-energized boy growing up in the sleepy town of Hancock, New Hampshire, Kip Garre was first struck with a serious case of alpine wanderlust before he was old enough to drive a car. “The bus would drop us off at our local hill, Crotchet Mountain, and it was the greatest feeling in the world: I’d have all night to ski, until my parents came to pick me up at closing. I enjoyed cross-country skiing just as much, that feeling you get when you are off in the woods by yourself, when you can go for miles in any direction you want.”
Twenty years later, that same frenetic charge and love of adventure drove Kip to perpetually seek out new challenges. “There’s never been one discipline of skiing that I’ve focused on,” he said. “I ski-raced through high-school and into college, but then, in the early nineties, free-skiing came along –and I was totally captivated.” After finishing school, Garre moved to the Sierra Mountains outside of Lake Tahoe, California, where he coached youth racing, and spent as much time in the park as possible. A transformational experience occurred in 1999, when Garre migrated to Chamonix, France, for the winter season. “Back in the U.S., everyone was skiing these short technical lines,” Kip remembered, “but in Europe, they were skiing proper mountaineering routes. It really opened my eyes.”
A decade later, Garre had graduated from Chamonix’s test-piece runs to pioneering his own ski descents in the world’s greater ranges, from the Antarctic Peninsula to Kashmir and the Mustang Himalaya. When asked why he had invested so much time and effort to ski in some of the world’s most remote places, his answer was straight forward. “When you’re totally tired, you’re cold, you’re out of food, and you barely pull it off…. When you go to the mountains and you work that hard, you come home with a new level of confidence and understanding of yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone about it, but if you go out and push really hard to achieve goals, it’s something that you will carry with you every day for the rest of your life.”
Our most sincere condolences and sympathies go out to all of you who knew and loved Kip and Allison. Thank you for your inspiration, Kip and Allison. You remain forever a part of all those you have touched.
- Western Nepal, Bajhang District, ski mountaineering October 2009
- The Antarctic Peninsula, ski mountaineering November 2009
- Ski Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra, December and January 2010
- Kashmir, India, ski guiding, January and February 2010
- Chamonix France, skiing and climbing, February and March, 2010
- Cordova, Alaska, Heli-ski guiding, March and April, 2010
- Western Nepal, Mustang District, trekking, April and May 2010
- Cordillera Blanca, Peru, ski mountaineering, June 2010