Mother nature plays for keeps. It’s a fact I remind myself of every time I head into the mountains and one that is often roughly brought into focus when the mountains claim another friend. I just received an email informing me of Jamie Pierre’s tragic passing on Sunday…
The first time I ever rode in a helicopter, I was sitting next to Jamie Pierre. It was in early 2004 and Jamie already had a certain amount of notoriety in the ski world for his fearless cliff hucks, something that would eventually net him a world record. Everyone said he was crazy and that he had something of a death wish, but I remember being taken aback by his easy smile and contagious laugh that eased my virgin nerves.
We spent close to two weeks in Haines that first trip and watching Jamie attack the big mountains was nothing short of inspiring… and terrifying as Jamie had a unique ability to put himself in the worst situations and emerge unscathed. The classic moment came when he was skiing a tricky line with a 40 foot cliff at the exit. Jamie skied the line beautifully before hooking a tip on some loose rock in the entry to the air, in classic Pierre fashion he rolled with it and sent a perfectly executed front flip off the cliff, stomped it cleanly and rode away. It was incredible to watch and we must have replayed the footage dozens of times, cracking up as Jamie gave a detailed explanation of exactly what had happened.
Over the next several years Jamie would become a regular in the big mountains around Haines and would eventually drop what SEABA guide and big mountain bad ass Reggie Crist described as “the biggest, baddest line I’ve ever witnessed”. The mountain was christened ‘St. Pierres Cathedral’ and I think the video footage of that descent is a fitting epitaph. God’s speed.