In Memoriam: Liz Daley’s Eternal Stoke

Module: gallery_album
Item: Liz Memoriam
Displays the photo gallery for a selected Gallery Album.

Top Image: Garrett Grove.

To have known Liz Daley is to have found the source of eternal stoke.

Case in point: New Year’s Eve, 2012. It was a milky day around Mt Baker. Hadn’t snowed in a few. The forecast was dreary—low overcast with negligible snow showers. Most people were staying home to prepare for the evening’s festivities. Liz had spent the prior couple days teaching an introductory splitboarding course in the Baker backcountry and sleeping in her newly acquired (but well used) Honda CR-V in the Chair 9 parking lot. I was ambiguous about even driving up to the mountain, but she wanted to go and claimed there might be powder out there, which she had been unable to properly ride with a half-dozen beginners in tow. So we went.

On her first line, she rode a skinny chute on the lower half of Mt Herman, taking a little tumble through the icy crux and coming out laughing. She then began setting a skin-track towards the saddle between Table Mountain and Herman.

It brought me back to our first day riding together. On that day three years prior, she had just acquired her first splitboard. I had led the way to some well-known lines close to the resort.

Now an experienced snowboard mountaineer (she may have disliked that term, but I find it appropriate) with multiple guiding certifications and several seasons in Chamonix under her belt, Liz was in the lead, setting the skin-track while I labored behind. About half way up, engaged in small talk about where her career was going, she stopped. She turned with a serious face and said, “I just want to look good naked. That’s really my goal.”

That was her sense of humor, her approach. Always fishing for smiles, spreading happiness. I can’t recall a single exchange with Liz during which she failed to mention she was “SO STOKED!” about something that had been/is/was going to be “SO SICK!”—an upcoming suffer-fest in the North Cascades, a deep powder day, a hut tour in the Alps, a week spent leading clients on Rainier, it was all the source of major excitement. She was well on her way to becoming an accomplished big mountain rider, a certified guide, a professional athlete. She had reason to be excited.

To Liz, life in the mountains was the epitome of awesome. And it was infectious.

As we reached a junction to head for the saddle a friend, Sam Giffin, came walking up behind. And then the skies broke. All around us, clouds enveloped the North Cascades. The forecast hadn’t even hinted at sunshine. But we had found a pocket of golden afternoon rays lighting up the rock walls and ridgelines of Herman proper. We continued up to ring in the New Year with style, thanks in no small part to Liz’s early morning optimism.

At the end of the day, Liz would drive south, bound for another Cascadian adventure, the destination of which I can’t recall. She would sleep in her car, again, or maybe at her parents’ house. She didn’t need to party. Come to think of it, her life was a party. She made sure of that wherever she went.

A month ago, I got an email from Liz. With no shortage of exclamation points, she outlined how her new sponsor was sending her to the Andes to ride a little known zone and hopefully score some less-traveled lines. She was, believe it or not, “STOKED!”

To have lost Liz to the mountains is a tragedy. To have been gifted her energy, a blessing. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Daley family, Davide, and the hundreds of people whose lives she improved in one way or another.

Thank you, Liz, for the smiles and inspiration. We will miss you dearly. And damned if we won’t stay stoked.


The Snowboarder's Journal mailing list

We respect your time, and only send you the occasional update.