Legendary mountain guide Bela Vadasz passed away yesterday at the age of 62. Bela was a technical director of the International Federation of Mountain Guides (IFMGA), Owner of Alpine Skills International (ASI), a fully IFMGA certified mountain guide, recipient of the American Mountain Guides Association’s Lifetime Acheivement Award, and absolute god on skis.
Bela passed away yesterday during a medical procedure in Oceanside, California.
“On behalf of the family we wanted to let you know that Bela passed away yesterday unexpectedly while undergoing a medical procedure in Oceanside, Ca. We are all saddened and shocked, a memorial will be held but understandably there are no current plans, we will keep you posted. Most important to Bela was his family, followed by his deep love of the mountains, the oceans, and his music. I’m sure he had a profound influence on many of you as we know you had on him. Bela followed his passion and lived the pure life. Something we all hope to do at some level and he nailed it. We just do not run across many people like Bela, he was truly one of the good guys.” – Rich Everett
Bela grew up in San Francisco but lived in Truckee, CA for over 30 years. Bela and his wife Mimi founded the guiding service Alpine Skills International (ASI) in California in 1979 after graduating from San Francisco State University with degrees in outdoor recreation. ASI teaches a wide array of mountain skills to students including backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. Skiing was always Bela’s focus.
Bela worked with other guides in the 1980s to create a certification program within the AMGA that would be acceptable at an international level and was 20+ years later was awarded the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Bela has done it all (and much of it with his wife Mimi) the first American ascent of the Puterey Ridge on Mont Blanc (the longest alpine route in the Alps) to the first freeheel ski decent of Denali to over 20 tours of the famous Haute ski route in the Alps to being one of the first American guide to be internationally certified to IFMGA standards.
“Bela started the ski program which was the crux of the AMGA being admitted into the IFMGA. Without his vision and perspiration, the AMGA wouldn’t be where it is today.” – Rob Hess, the AMGA technical director
“Bela is the epitome of passion when it comes to mountains. You don’t realize it at first because he is so soft spoken, but it was more than evident in his attention to detail while developing the certification program.” – Dick Jackson, owner of Aspen Expeditions and former president of the AMGA
Bela was an absolute legend in the American mountain world who was best known for his skiing and his love for skiing. His impact on the Sierra Nevada ski scene will never be forgotten. His impact on the entire American mountain guiding and skiing world is undeniable. Thank you, Bela.