Created on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 20:00
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 June 2008 20:00
Born in Meriden, CT, in 1956, Jef Aldrich died unexpectedly in California on January 31, 2008.
His love of skiing and passion for helping others began a career that took him around the world starting at Powder Ridge Ski Area, CT. In 1972 through 1974, Jef started by flipping burgers and went on to snowmaking, grooming and lift maintenance. In 1974-1975, he worked manufacturing skis for Olin Ski Co. in CT.
In 1976-1977, Jef moved to Vermont and was a snowmaker and groomer for Sugarbush, Warren. Jef took a NOLS course that summer. From 1978-1981, Jef was a ski mechanic and hard goods manager for Inverness Sports, Waitsfield. He took his EMT certification at this time and worked for the local volunteer ambulance squad.
In January of 1982, Jef married his life partner Nance C. Hall on skis under a bright, full moon in northern Vermont.
Soon after the wedding, they both moved to Colorado. Jef worked as a ski mechanic at Keystone for the rest of that season. From 1982 to 1990, Jef worked as a professional ski patrolman (PSPA) for both Keystone and Arapahoe Basin resorts. At A-Basin Jef became assistant avalanche technician, gunner and forecaster. He was also training coordinator and grooming supervisor.
Jef was a Colorado heli-ski guide during the 1991-1993 ski seasons.
During the summer of 1993 Jef and family moved to Porter Heights Skifield, New Zealand, where Jef was ski patrol director and snow safety officer. Jef also worked at Falls Creek in Australia.
Jef was the ski patrol director for Aspen Skiing Company from 1994-2001. He also served on the ski patrol at Sunlight Mt. in 2002. He left this career to recover from a near fatal head-on collision.
Jef loved music, poetry, the outdoors, his friends and most of all his family. Jef was a cosmic wanderer. He enjoyed the view from out there. It was a big part of who he was and he incorporated this special perspective into every aspect of his life.
He is survived by his life-partner Nance C. Hall and their son Benjamin Snow Aldrich; he adored them both. His brothers Willie, Mark and David and a sister, Martha, also survive him. Those who knew him will sorely miss him and his abounding humor.
Celebrations of his life will be held in Colorado on Aspen Mountain at 4 p.m., June 20, at the Sundeck, contact Cory Brettman at (970) 927-0350 for details; at Arapahoe Basin at 5 p.m., June 24, contact Tim Finnigan at (970) 513-5752; and Vermont in July (date and time to be announced). Contact Wendy and Ben Bridgewater, (802) 496-4475, and Gamal Buhaina, (802) 496-6269, for Waitsfield, Vermont, celebration.
A quote from his dear friend "Cappy" (another fellow A-Basin patroller):
"I know Jef enjoyed the other mountains he worked on as well, but for both Jef and I and a lot of others, The Basin is different, it's special. You can hear it in the way we say her name. It's not so much about the place itself, but rather a relationship between patroller and mountain. It was the feelings we had for 'her.' We didn't talk about it out loud, that wasn't done, and I expect I will catch some grief for doing it here. Yet for many of us, Jef included, The Basin was and is a mistress. For those of us, she owns our hearts in a way that no other mountain could. We spend many of our days remembering her and in the night she visits us in our dreams. I keep my patrol belt on a coat rack in my office so that I won't forget and I noticed Jef had his 'Jeff Part Timer Lee Leather Belt' around the passenger seat of his van. Even after we leave, we never let her go, she won't let us. But that's okay with us, we'd have it no other way. Jef's spirit has passed on now, but I know where it's gone to." -- Cappy
"He had many great qualities: loyalty and friendship best among them. If he could call today, I have no doubt that our conversation would pick right up where an old one ended maybe ten years ago. There would be no awkward stammer or uncomfortable pause, just Jef; the same old Jef. . . I will hold him there in that safe place in my memory." -- Dana Ham