Telluride Legend Peter Inglis Killed in Alaskan Cornice Fall

Peter Inglis, a 20-year veteran for Telluride Adventure Guides, was killed on Wednesday after a cornice fall in the St. Elias Range, Alaska. Jaime Palmer, a well-known Telluride skier, stomped out the letters “PI” into a snowy face within the Bear Creek area yesterday as a tribute to Inglis. The Telluride legend was profiled by Taylor Van Roekel in the December 2013 issue of Backcountry, and now here.


Peter Inglis on a trip to Denali. [Photo] Mike Thurk

By 2005, when he skied the probable second descent of the constricted 60+ degree double couloir, Heavens Eleven, outside of Telluride, Colo., Peter Inglis was already a T-Ride legend. “It was scary,” Inglis says simply about his descent, portions of which he was forced to down climb. But the feat wasn’t surprising, at least to those who knew him. “He’s as strong, and as solid as anybody I’ve met,” says Peter Walker, a good friend of Peter’s and T-ride sidecountry confidant. The exploration that they were doing in the mid-90’s was setting the table for the future of Telluride, a place, despite his travels, that Peter will probably always call home.

Inglis grew up in Underhill Center, Vermont, a stone’s throw from Smugglers’ Notch Resort where, during a stint at the University of Vermont in the ’70s, he patrolled and instructed. By that time, however, backcountry skiing had already clicked for him after several trips to New Hampshire’s Tuckerman Ravine. “My first trip there was when I was 15 or 16. I totally fell in love with ski mountaineering on those trips,” Inglis says.

But at 19, he headed to Squaw Valley for a taste of the ski bum life. He later landed in Telluride, where he now lives with his wife, Julie, whom he met 10 years ago. Within a year of meeting her, they took their first trip up Denali on skis together. Now, he punches the clock as a patroller and avalanche forecaster at the resort.

Walker, owner of Telluride Mountain Guides, met Inglis in the early ’90s at the Telluride Mountain Club. “He gave a slideshow and it was all on extreme skiing in the Alps. Back then, he was the kind of person everybody looked up to in terms of high-angle skiing, so his name was around.” Inglis was hot off a couple seasons in the Alps where he lived in Chamonix for two years to be an exclusive athlete for Swedish ski photographer Felix St. Clair Renard.

Together, Inglis and Walker started exploring the Telluride sidecountry, Walker says, “before the word ‘sidecountry’ was even being spoken.” They guided tours through the Prospect Basin Area, Palmyra Peak and Prospect Ridge, all out-of-bounds until as recently as 2003. “A lot of that stuff is now part of the ski area officially, but 20 years ago, nobody even thought we would ever put lifts up there,” Walker says. And while Inglis was making waves in the San Juans, he was making them abroad as well.

“In the mid ’90s, I did a few trips on the Haute Route, Cham to Zermatt,” Inglis says. “Those were some of the best 10-day trips I’ve ever had.” He would eventually tick off descents like the east face of the Matterhorn, the Marinelli Couloir, the west face of the Eiger, and the north face of Mont Blanc.

Since 2004, Inglis has worked as a certified AMGA ski mountaineering guide for Mountain Trip Guides on Denali, where he met good friend and eventual ski partner Ryan Bougie in 2007, who refers to Inglis as “Pi.” “I met Peter when he was stumbling drunk on the landing strip on the Kahiltna Glacier, after he finished a 21-day trip on Denali with his clients,” Bougie says. “He asked if he could rope up with Marcus Warring and I for our trip up to 14,000 feet. That same night, we left for camp.”

After a stellar 2007 summer on Denali, when, Bougie says, “Everything that wasn’t blue up high was skiable, and nothing was blue,” he, Warring and Inglis started planning a trip to Mt. Saint Elias for 2009. At the time, Inglis was working for the Ultima-Thule Lodge, located in Chitina, Alaska.


Inglis making turns down Heaven’s Eleven outside of Telluride in 2005. [Photo] Brett Schreckengost

With the help of legendary bush pilot Paul Claus, Bougie, Warring and Inglis were dropped at a high camp halfway up the peak. “Pi was the lynch pin of that trip,” Bougie says. “Claus doesn’t just drop anyone off on that mountain, but Pi sort of validated our presence because of his experience.”

“We climbed to the top and skied part of the top half, and then skied down from our middle camp to the ocean,” Inglis says. After being socked in by warm, wet weather, the team was scrambling up a ridge when Inglis dislodged a boulder that left him with a debilitating compression fracture in his spine. After a few days of tent-rest, Inglis skied out. Bougie calls Pi “Old-Man Strong.”

Inglis is now 54 years old, but his friends say you’d never know it. “He’s not the fastest guy, but he knows his body so well, and he keeps his pace forever,” Bougie says. And even with a stout résumé already on file, Inglis isn’t planning on stopping any time soon. “I feel like a Timex watch commercial,” he says. “I take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.”


  1. Rolfe Eric tikkala says:

    This is sad news when seasoned veterans die from no fault of their own . Ironically a young skier in Banff last month, fell 500 metres off Goats Eye mountain when a cornice he was standing on broke and he plunged 500 metres but managed to survive as the cornice actually broke his fall all the way down. The park rangers were shocked to find him alive.

  2. Chris Conant says:

    i had the pleasure of growing up with Peter in Vermont and attending MT. Mansfield High School as a classmate. As you all can imagine we in Vermont are saddened by the news of losing such a great friend! We know that Peter cherished each and every day as it was his last! Our hearts are weakened but our spirits raised by this fine individuals accomplishments! Our thoughts and supports is shared with his family and friends of the west! Goodbye my friend, until we meet again.

  3. John tomasi says:

    I grew up in Underhill Center VT , about a half mike from Peter. (Hello Chris Conant!) Even as kids, his ski-hikes up Mt Mansfield (on the Underhill non-Stowe ski area side) was stuff of local legend. I remember him as a strong, decent, and always kind person. You lived large, Peter, and did Underhill Center proud. RIP.

  4. Laura Bruch says:

    I, too, grew up in Underhill Center, Vermont – right next door to Peter, his little brother Andrew, and their mom. We shared the same driveway. Our houses were positioned in the center of town were we were able to watch the sun rise every morning over Mount Mansfield. What a magical way to wake up. What a magical place to grow up, and magical playmates with whom we roamed! We had the most rowdy games and explorations- imagine runner sledding down the Underhill State Park road, riding snowmobiles, horses and dirt bikes all day, hiking up to elusive swimming holes, watching the northern lights on crisp fall nights, and of course night skiing at Underhill Ski Bowl. Peter is in a lot of those memories. Since he was one of the older neighbor kids, he was pretty tolerant to those of us who were younger and couldn’t keep pace and he kept many of us safe way back then.
    Yes, Peter Inglis was a rockstar who followed his bliss!
    RIP fellow Vermonter and adventurer.
    Laura Bruch

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