Doug Coombs - Doug Coombs, 1st extreme skiing champion


Extreme skiing pioneer and mountain guide killed in a cliff fall in France.

Doug Coombs, 48, was killed in a cliff fall while guiding in France on April 3, 2006.

Coombs was a hero of the extreme skiing movement. He first came to national prominence in 1991, as winner of the first US Extreme Skiing Championship in Alaska. He repeated the championship in 1993.

Coombs and his wife Emily ran an adventure skiing guide service in La Grave, France. According to an accident report, Coombs was guiding a group of three clients when Chad VanderHam, 31, of Keystone, Colo., fell on an icy pitch and went over a cliff. Coombs sidestepped down to see what had happened to VanderHam, lost his edge grip and himself went over the edge. Both men were killed in the 600-foot plunge down the Polichinelle Couloir.

VanderHam was himself a licensed mountain guide.

Doug Coombs grew up in Bedford, Mass., and skied in New England. He raced for Montana State University in Bozeman, and graduated with a degree in geology. He began Doug Coombsguiding in Jackson Hole in 1986. He posted first descents on over 250 couloirs and extreme snowfields on five continents, and was featured in many films.

Doug was among the pioneers of skiing in Alaska’s Chugach Range, and with his wife Emily, founded Valdez Heli-Ski Guides in 1994. They sold the business in 2001.

The couple also founded Steep Skiing Camps Worldwide in Jackson in 1993, then moved the business to La Grave and Verbier in 1997.

Coombs was a three-time winner of the National Powder 8 championship, a certified UIAGM mountain guide and a member of the American Mountain Guide Association. He is survived by Emily and their three-year-old son David.