A Life Lived Well

photo ” I want to go skidding accross the finsh line of life, leaking oil, missing parts, screaming …Geronimo!”
Bill McCollum- Ski Racing Magazine.

The picture you see here is of my friend Chip Kamin. I am the one behind him with the red shirt and wool hat. We were on one of our trips skiing and camping at Tuckerman Ravine in New Hampshire. Chip not only skied and camped with us on those trips but he also hiked to the ravine next door called Huntington Ravine and went ice climbing. You see, Chip was a real adventurer. I first met Chip when he was an examiner for the Central Division of PSIA- the ski instructors organization. He and Larry Cohen and Bob Irish formed a ski school based out of Laurel Mountain in Pa., and an area that Chip owned at the time in Warren, Pa called The Buckaloons. All three of these guys introduced me to ski instruction when I was in college. Chip was a fantastic skier and very knowledgeable and a great influence on me when I began the process of certification for ski instruction through PSIA.

Chip was an amazing guy. He invited me to his screening of his climb of Ama Dablam in the Himalaya. Not only did he climb the challenging peak, but he arranged a documentary which he screened at Chatham College to a packed house. It was the first ascent of Himalayan Peak by anyone from the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh. Chip won 2 silver medals at the 2005 Senior Olympics in road cycling and was responsible for founding The Selkirk Powder Company in Schweitzer,Idaho which specializes in backcountry ski outings. Chip developed real estate very successfully in Telluride and Schweitzer and had the foresight to work with these developments long before the areas became popular among the ski and outdoor set. His background in real estate development served him well as he made a life for himself out west.

I met Chip’s wife Robin when they were dating. She was his soulmate, skiing and outdoor partner, and mother to their two very successful sons. We go back a long time. Chip used to tell me little gems that were helpful. Things like, “Pat- downtube shifters on the road bike are now dangerous. The shifting in a pace line is so fast now with the new index brake lever shifters that if you reach down to shift your downtube shifters, you may cause an accident.” I immediately went out after that and bought a bike with the new Campagnolo shifters and immediately saw the advantage and the wisdom of the tip from Chip. We constantly talked about ski equipment and the evolution of the shaped ski. Our adventures with my friend Eric Durfee and Chip’s friend Stuart up at Tuckerman Ravine were times that I will never forget. 90 MPH winds, visqueen shelter covers, freeze dried food, bottled gas cooking stoves, sunshine and sudden snow storms, are memories that are etched im my brain forever. Chip was a part of my life. I will forever be in his debt for all of the comraderie and all of the information from a true explorer.

In recent years with family obligations, I didn’t get to ski and ride with Chip as much but every time I saw him on the hill or at the North Park lot, we had a lot of laughs and I enjoyed riding with him whenever I could. The guy was a true Renaissance man in every sense of the word. Strong, athletic, bright- he was the first guy I ever saw use a Garmin device to plot a ride and download the results on his computer. Chip was in the prime of his athletic and entrepreneurial life when he was suddenly taken out with a cardiac arrest last Friday. He passed quietly on Monday of this week and we all are shocked. How could a guy with this much verve and fitness be taken out by a heart attack? Chip was 62 and looked and acted like a guy half that age. I will miss him and so will all of the active community in Pittsburgh, Telluride, and Sandpoint, Idaho.

We all wonder why? God’s ways are not our ways and we do not know the hour of the timing of His plans. The Bible says that ” He knew you in your mother’s womb.” I believe the good Lord knew exactly what he was doing when He created Chip. I also believe that He knew full well what He was doing when He took him. Adventurers sometimes do not age gracefully. Chip lived a life that most people never get to experience. It was full, loving with Robin and the boys, and caring with all of his friends. We will never forget him. I believe that the moment that Chip was taken, he sailed to the Great Beyond- in a winged parachute suit…………with a smile on his face………..screaming……..Geronomo!!! Thanks for reading and please remember the Kamins in your thoughts and prayers.