And not just any attendee, but the well-known and highly regarded Theo Meiners.
Tributes here (and probably many other places too very soon):
This appears to the most complete account of the cause:
Accident claims local ski legend
Backcountry ski pioneer and longtime ski guide Theo Meiners died in a fall Thursday night in Anchorage, Alaska.
Meiners was trying to ride down the handrails of an escalator in a downtown mall when he fell 60 feet to the ground, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Marlene Lammers said.
Witnesses told police Meiners was drinking at a party earlier in the night, she said.
The 30-year Jackson Hole guide and owner of Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides was in Anchorage attending the International Snow Science Workshop, Lammers said.
Meiners, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene. Lammers said police believe he died in the fall. Foul play is not suspected, but the medical examiner will probably perform an autopsy in the next several days.
Meiners had a long career in mountaineering and guiding. He worked as an instructor and guide for the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Mountain Sports School every year since the winter of 1978-79.
In Alaska, he worked for two well-known heli-ski companies.
“Theo was a mentor for me both philosophically and technically,” mountain guide Tom Turiano said Friday afternoon. “He maintained his passion for mountaineering and skiing longer than anyone I know.”
Turiano is the author of “Teton Skiing — A History and Guide.” As discoverer of the “Arch” couloir and a major participant in the skiing world of the mid-1980s, Meiners is mentioned several times in that book.
Employees at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort credited Meiners on Friday as a pioneer and a mentor.
Resort President Jerry Blann said the resort family is saddened by Meiners’ death.
“He brought skill and experience when both teaching and guiding, and, just as important, he brought enthusiasm and passion to everything that involved his true loves, the mountains and skiing,” Blann said in an email. “He will be missed.”
In a statement passed on through friends, Meiners’ family said they are setting up an avalanche awareness fund in his name and requested that all memorials be made in the form of donations. Details on the fund will be released when they are final.