Ski mountaineer Garre dies in avalanche

Kip Garre on a peak in Pakistan in 2009. Kristoffer Erickson

Well-known ski mountaineer Kip Garre, along with his girlfriend Allison Kreutzen, were killed in an avalanche near Lone Pine, Calif., on Tuesday. Their bodies were found Thursday in a search and rescue mission after friends became alarmed that they had not heard from the pair, who had set out three days prior to ski the Split Couloir in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.

Garre was 38. Originally from New Hampshire, he was based in Squaw Valley and worked for the last 12 years as a heli ski guide in Alaska. He was also an athlete for K2 and Mountain Hardwear and traveled the world climbing and skiing remote peaks. Kreutzen was 41 and worked as an emergency room nurse at Tahoe Forest Hospital.

Inyo County Sheriff's Department's Public Information Officer Carma Roper confirmed with ESPN that search and rescue found the bodies Thursday morning. Garre and Kreutzen were located in an avalanche debris field. This was the second time someone was killed by an avalanche in Inyo County this year.

Robb Gaffney, a friend of the couple's who assisted in the rescue mission, said they were found with their crampons on, indicating they had been hit by the avalanche while ascending the mountain. The area where the two were found was in a pocket of wind-loaded powder near the summit of 14,058-foot Split Mountain. "They were two of the strongest backcountry skiers out there by far," Gaffney told ESPN. "This is a big loss."

The deaths mark yet another devastating blow to the Tahoe ski community and beyond. "Kip was an inspiration to everyone around him and continued to set the bar for standards in all realms of his life," said Jessica Sobolowski-Quinn, a close friend of Garre's. "He was the most humble guy in the world and would always make others feel special and talented. His zeal for life was contagious, as was his passion for the mountains. He was truly world class and we feel a bit at peace knowing he was with Allison, as they were the perfect match."

Garre was with freeskier Arne Backstrom in Peru in June 2010 when Backstrom was killed on Pisco Mountain.

In May 2009, ESPN Freeskiing named Garre "the Most Interesting Man in the World." In an an extensive interview with ESPN.com's Tim Mutrie, Garre said, "Ski mountaineering and really contrived, puzzling lines, that's the most exciting thing to me." Garre added later, on the topic of Shane McConkey's then-recent death, "Anytime something this drastic happens, yes, you think about it more. You always think about the risk. But for me, personally, I don't think it'll change what I do. I'll always have it in the back of my mind. Maybe it'll force me to analyze situations even more so, because you know bad's a possibility."