• Extreme skier killed in Stowe filming stunt
     | February 16,2005

    CAMBRIDGE — An extreme skier who died in a fatal ski accident on Mount Mansfield Monday fell 500 feet after a fluke avalanche pushed him over a cliff, rescue officials said.

    Vermont State Police report Alec J. Stall, 23, of Stowe died as the result of falling off the cliff on Vermont's highest peak at about 3 p.m. Rescuers reached him at about 4:30 p.m.

    He was skiing with four men from Meathead Films, a company out of Burlington dedicated to filming extreme skiing in the Northeast.

    Stalls had taken a ski lift at the Stowe Mountain Resort up to the top and hiked out of bounds with three of his friends to shoot photographs and an extreme skiing video.

    The four young men had season passes to Stowe Mountain Resort and were in an area well beyond the "chin" in the area known as Lake of the Clouds on Mount Mansfield, according to Stalls' companions.

    They told investigators that Stall had skied down a 'chute' formation on the side of the mountain and then fell down at the bottom of the chute. He was approximately 30 feet from the edge of the cliff when he fell. According to authorities, as Stall was trying to get up, a slough of snow came down the chute toward him and pushed him over the edge of the icy cliff, where he fell approximately 500 feet to the ground below.

    Two of Stall's companions hiked down to him while the third sought help.

    Stowe Mountain spokesperson Jeff Wise said the four didn't notify the ski resort and went beyond marked trails on their own.

    Wise said many extreme skiers who videotape themselves are looking for the "first descent," or to be the first ones to ski dangerous terrain. A Web site dedicated to Meathead Films indicates that Stowe is the company's "home resort" but it films at other ski areas throughout New England.

    The Stowe Hazardous Terrain team responded to the call along with about six people from the Stowe Ski Patrol.

    Neil Van Dyke, of the hazardous terrain team, was in charge of the search for Stall. He said about 12 rescuers traveled up through Smugglers Notch by snowmobile and were able to hike up to the site where Stall fell.

    "It's not unusual to go out to get back country skiers, but the terrain where they were was more extreme than most back country skiers could handle. In the 25 years that I've been doing this, this was the first time someone has died on that area of the mountain," said Van Dyke.

    Van Dyke emphasized that avalanches aren't something that most people associate with Vermont but on that area of Mount Mansfield, it is not uncommon.

    Stall recently moved to Stowe from Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

    An untimely death investigation is being conducted by state police. Lamoille County State's Attorney Joel Page and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were notified of the incident. Results from the autopsy are pending.

    "Learning from tragic experiences is very important. What happened yesterday should be a serious reminder for those who are back country skiing, extreme skiing. It's a very volatile environment and even the most experienced skiers can wind up extremely injured," said Wise.

    "These were highly experienced skiers, when you go onto terrain like this sometimes you get spanked by Mother Nature," said Van Dyke.

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