On November 7, 2009, Exum Guide Doug Coombs was posthumously inducted into the Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a skier or snowboarder. Doug died while skiing with friends on April 3, 2006 in Couloir de Polichinelle in the Fréaux sector of the vast off-piste region of La Grave, France. He was going to the aid of his friend who had fallen off a cliff.
Coombs is regarded by many as the most important skier of his generation for his contributions to steep skiing techniques and for the popularization of adventure skiing. As a testament to his stunning accomplishments, the day after he was killed a major French publication described Doug as possibly “the best skier in the world.”
Doug logged hundreds of spectacular fist ski descents but he will be remembered by his friends more for the boundless positive energy he brought to his family, friends and clients. Doug raced for the Montana State University Ski Team for four years before beginning heli-ski guiding in 1986. He moved to Jackson in 1987 and began a quest to invent the subtle skills of steep skiing.
By 1990, Doug had become a master of his craft but was still largely unknown outside Jackson Hole. That was all to change. Convincing Life Link in Jackson to subsidize his ticket to the first-ever World Extreme Ski Championship in Valdez, Alaska in 1991, Doug rocked the competitors with a bold and inventive line down the exceptionally steep course. Emily, soon to be Doug’s wife, won the Women’s Extreme competition in 1992. Doug won again in 1993 and in 1994 Doug and Emily were married. Together they founded Valdez Heli-Ski Guides in Alaska.
Doug won the “National Powder ‘8’ Championships three times, placed second and third in the grueling “24 Hours of Aspen,” and was named the “World’s Best Skier” by Outside Magazine. He traveled to Kyrgyzstan, South America, Europe and New Zealand as one of the star skiers in dozens of films, and with Exum Guides Mark Newcomb and Stephen Koch, made the first ski descent of Mt. Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.
Named one of the Top 25 skiers in North America” in 2005 by Skiing Magazine, Doug and Emily took their Steep Skiing Camps from Jackson Hole to Valdez, Alaska, Verbier, Switzerland, and to La Grave, France, where Doug, Emily and their new son David Doug made their second home.
In 2004, again with Newcomb, Doug made the first guided ski descent of the Grand Teton with an Exum client. This challenging descent remains one of the most exacting and coveted achievements offered at Exum.
Doug was a fully certified UIAGM/ IFMGA Mountain Guide and a sponsored athlete with Marmot for over a decade.
Doug is survived by his wife Emily and son David Doug, who still live in Jackson.