in memoriam: Jim Kanzler

By Jim Stanford on April 22, 2011

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Jim Kanzler

In another blow to the skiing and climbing community, Jim Kanzler was found dead early Monday after committing suicide.

Kanzler was a longtime ski patroller, avalanche forecaster and Exum mountain guide. He helped make the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center the indispensable institution it is today.

Nicknamed “Rathole,” he carried the weight of a dark family history. His father committed suicide, and his brother was killed by an avalanche on his way to bury the father’s gun in Glacier National Park — an incident chronicled in the book The White Death.

Kanzler notched many impressive climbing feats. An obituary is posted here. Friends and family are organizing a memorial service for early summer; a Facebook page has been created to remember him.

One of Kanzler’s colleagues, Ron Matous, passed along a saying that Jim used to share with clients on the Lower Saddle, to ensure they would not dawdle:

“Motion is life, stasis is death.”

(Photo by David Bowers)


Posted under Deaths, Ski Resorts, Sports

4 Comments so far

  1. dgutin April 23, 2011 7:05 am

    jim was a great man and will be missed!!!!

  2. sue April 25, 2011 9:44 pm

    I could never call Jim by his nickname Rathole. He was such a great guy! Everyone is so sad to hear this news. Very sad.

  3. Jacqueline May 9, 2011 7:36 pm

    Jim was a good friend of Rand and I’s. We will miss him, his love of the mountains, the care he had for others, his love of the Hum Bugs, his slow, smooth low voice as he gave his forecasts, and the way you could just sit in silent, comfortable time with him. Loved him from Montana, to Salt Lake City, and always in Jackson Hole. With our love and prayers to his family and friends.

  4. Mike January 16, 2013 11:44 am

    I took climbing lessons from Jim and Chad Chadwick in Red Lodge back in the early 70′s. I was just a lad then and Jim was a gracious and patient instructor. He also sold me a 10 speed bike to help my realize my teenage dream to bike around Montana. I was very surprised to come across this while researching my past contacts. May he rest in peace and be ever present amongst the Beartooths and other places of beauty.

    RE: above comment. May not have been Chad Chadwick, may have been Steve White. Point is, Jim was a GREAT guy.

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