In memory of Steve McKinney...

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captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 10, 2007 - 11:17am PT
I would like to take this moment to remember and honor Steve McKinney, whom was my best friend and who was also the good friend to many of the people on this forum. It was on this day November 10th-(1990) that Stevie ventured onto the next dimension... For many of us it was a very hard time and difficult to comprehend, as this guy was as tough as they came, he survived helicopter crashes, hangglider crashes, high speed crashes on skis, and a really bad climbing fall where he broke his back in 3 places and shattered his wrist and elbow... yet he would always come back and surprise us all and pull off the unbelievable again. We're not talking any ordinary person here, this boy had the right stuff and he was as strong as they came, he was loved by all and had a magnetic personality that oozed with brilliance, and had an air about him that stopped most in their tracks with awe when he walked by. Stevie was possibly one of the most naturally strongest people I have ever seen, I watched him almost rip Burtons arm off in an arm wrestling match, and he did the same with John Riggins of the Washington Redskins, yet he never worked out a day in his life. The boy set five world speed skiing records, was the first person to fly an hangglider off Everest, went on many climbs in the Himalaya and did a few big wall climbs with Burton and I and never batted an eye, he was a warrior in the true sense, and he's heavily missed not only by me, but by all who knew him. Anyway, without going overboard which I could easily do, I'll let some of you make some comments and maybe tell a few stories.

Below are a few photos I think some of you will like seeing. Two are photos when he flew off of Everest's North face with an hangglider in 1986, and one was when we were doing the ski mountaineering trip around Lake Tahoe in 1978. In that photo are McKinney, Dick Dorworth, myself, Otis Kantz, Tim Tilton and Bill McKinley.

In Jimmy Hendrix's words... "I'll see you in the next world and don't be late" here's to you my brother, you had a good ride and you did well-






McKinney, Dick Dorworth, myself, Otis Kantz, Tim Tilton and Bill McKinley.


McKinney & Dorworth on Lovers Leap...



bhilden

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA
Nov 10, 2007 - 11:25am PT
Let's here some Steve stories. One of my favorites is how he tried to perfect his aerodynamic technique for setting speed skiing records by clicking into his boards on top of a ski rack on a car and going 100+ mph down the road. The first ghetto wind tunnel.

Bruce
graham

Social climber
Ventura, California
Nov 10, 2007 - 12:19pm PT
For me Steve was my first brush with a world recognized record holding athlete. Just standing in the same group absorbing his energy was almost too much for an unworthy teenager. Even Bridwell as he told me of Steve McKinney’s exploits assigned him legendary status. When he would follow us around the boulders he would become just one of the guys and that really grounded the group in a fashion that made us feel all equal.

Always a treat Craig when you guys would show up in the valley.

Good thoughts deserved on this anniversary.

Mike
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 10, 2007 - 01:34pm PT
I met him once maybe twice, heard him tell some good stories with a sincere and infectious enthusiasm.
He did have an unmistakable charisma, Catherine Cullinane was smitten with him for awhile there, and as well she should have been.
Lean, wiry and ready to strike, the dude had an aura like a romanticized gunslinger, slipped through a crack in time.
captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2007 - 03:05pm PT
Thanks you guys, you got Stevie right on all accounts. Just so you know, he was always heavily impressed and inspired by you guys, and talked about all of you as if you were super human by the way you moved on the stone, we were both always in awe with you guys, you always made everything look so easy that it was hard for us to conceive as being real, especially after we gave it a go, it was at this time we found out it was not so easy, but then again, you guys were the masters, what can I say... The spirit and brotherhood everyone shared during this time was one of the things that I think shined the brightest.
captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 10, 2007 - 04:49pm PT
Yes, Kath... its hard to believe that 17 yrs has gone by already since that tragic day, as it seems like it was only yesterday. As the old saying goes, time waits for no one, in this case that reality couldn't be any more true.
Maysho

climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 10, 2007 - 08:34pm PT
Thanks so much hermano Craig for posting this tribute up. I remember that terrible day so clearly, standing with Bridwell amidst about 500 people at the CityRock grand opening. Steve was driving up to Sacramento and then was supposed to join us the next day. We got the call about the accident and hopped in the car, arriving at the hospital about an hour after he died.

But so many better memories, times in the trailer park, times in the valley. When as an eighteen year old, for a small period I let myself get sucked into the Tahoe blow scene, Steve one night took me aside, grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said you are way too smart for this sh#t Peter. I took it to heart and moved back to Yos, met Lynda, became a dad etc.

He was a force of nature, and I miss him.

Peter
Jaybro

Social climber
The West
Nov 10, 2007 - 08:53pm PT
I think that was Mr. Sylvester.
At least he was the one on thr front page of the SF Chronicle doing that, never saw the poster.
WBraun

climber
Nov 10, 2007 - 09:21pm PT
So one day Steve gets Bridwell and Bardini into his porsche carrera and they do 100 mph down Chapel straight away. Then around towards Camp 4 over the Lower Yosemite falls bridge with all 4 wheels off the ground going over the bridge ..... hehehe.

First time I see Steve.

Squaw Valley, KT-22 with Bridwell. Bridwell says Steve's on his way down "Let's wait."

It's the worst breakable crust snow and I'm fighting hard to keep from breaking my leg on this sh'it.

Here comes Steve. Fuk! WTF was that that just went by at Mach 6?

Bridwell gives that Bridwell classic smile. "That was Steve"

I was blown off the face of the earth .....
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 10, 2007 - 10:29pm PT
I like your anecdote Peter.
I was gonnah say all you Too High guys could, at first blush, be kinda' scary, except skinny Mayfield.
DHike

climber
Nov 11, 2007 - 12:02am PT
For so many of us younger skiers, Steve WAS the Ski-God of Squaw.
An enlightened buddah of the steep and fast, who claimed when once asked if he saw god on one of his speed runs, Steve's reply, "I passed him on the way down".

No one had the vision and daring to ski the lines out of the Palisades that Steve and the posse first pioneered. We looked up to them, wanted to ski like them, wanted to know them.

No one had ever straightlined 'Xtra Chute' or hucked huge out of the 'box', only to sink into a deep tuck on the run out and hit the warp factor button, like Steve. We used to be in awe at the sight.

I think it was Steve, in regards to Werner's post, that actually coined the term 'crud skiing', summoning all the skill, strength and talent to make those kinds of worst conditions 'fun', on a pair of Atomic 225's, later, becoming a rite of passage for the younger KT crew. Today, it's easy on the fats.

It was Steve and the posse who were the first real American 'freeskiers' of the ski world, before the term even existed. The freedom to seek out all the challenges the mountains had to offer, on skis, other than just chasing sticks on a perfectly prepared course, or on a pair of really short skis like the Euros.

I finally met Steve around the late '80's, while working at one of the local ski shops. An imposing figure, legendary for sure, but always polite and encouraging to the young neophyte skier. I was always so stoked to be able to fetch his skis from the back after a fresh tune-up, or rivet a new buckle on a boot, later to tell some of my friends up on the Palisades that I 'knew' McKinney. An inspiration to all of us wanna be's as well as such up and coming talent in the 'extreme' ski world like Scot Schmidt, Glen Plake, Tom Day and Kevin Andrews.

The day I finally got to ski in his presence was, well, awesome. We were hiking up to the Palisades, the first group off the chair as soon as they turned the sign. Halfway up, and this being a pretty short hike, almost running, we were sucking air, determined to still be first. Suddenly, almost out of nowhere, Steve appears, taking one step for every two of ours, passes us, and on the way, all casual, not a sign of increased breathing says, 'Hey Dan, thanks for fixing my boot, see you up there." BAM, instant cred in front of the crew.
Granted this is after his broken back too, he waited for us, gave us some beta at the top, dropped in, and was gone. Later that day, in KT liftline, just before he got on the chair, Steve sees me and said, 'you guys shredded that". That was it, my chest puffed out, head snapped up, Steve McKinney saw me ski the Palisades and complimented me on it! Holy Sh#t! What was unusual is that Steve never stopped, always doing non-stoppers, top to bottom. Why he stopped and watched is beyond me, but somehow he did and stoked a younger skier so much, that I still do it, McKinney style, top to bottom, non-stoppers, mach-schnell, to this day. Only not on 225's, though I still have a pair of DH race boards I haven't parted that were a direct inspiration in using 'off piste', because of Steve.

Steve's exploits and the tales made the media and the industry take notice too. Outside of what was becoming a dying sport of way too many dudes in stretch pants, smacking gates, Steve made freeskiing credible and eventually marketable. We all skied on racing skis, in part, because McKinney proved, racing skis worked well off the course too.

Thank you captain chaos, for this rememberence, we are all still saddened by the loss of this icon of the ski world.

God speed, Steve McKinney, I am grateful to you for showing us how it's done.

Dan

captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2007 - 03:11am PT
Just got up (I'm 9 hrs ahead of you guys) and was pleasantly surprised to see all the new posts... all of your stories bring a smile to my face and warm my heart, as you managed to put in words Stevie's spirit, and defined his extraordinary ability on skis that the ski world does not see too often. For those in the know, Stevie took the ski world by a storm, and Werner's and DHike's stories tell why, he was on another level, at times it seemed that he was from another planet, at least it seemed that way sometimes as he was able to ski some of the lousiest nastiest conditions as if it was prefect spring snow, Werner's description of the shitz crust snow day on KT-22 defined this well. Peter, I remember that night perfectly, like you I got to the hospital too late, when you and Brid came to Chuck's house (where we went after the hospital in Sac) it was a blessing in disguise, you guys were shelter from the storm for me... Steve's loss was felt around the world, yet his legend lives on, this is clear by all of the posts that have been made here. I thank all of you for the kind words and stories, you don't know how good it makes me feel to hear your stories about Stevie. Crowley, Billy was a ski patrolman in Colorado, he may had gone to a small speed race one time or another, but that would have been about it. Tamara is in Squaw raising her daughter Francisca, the next generation of a probable super skier. Again, thanks to all of you for your kind words, your all great- Craig


PS
That was Sillyvestor who skied off of El Cap with an parachute, one of the original base jumpers, he later did the same thing off of Asgard for a James Bond film...
captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2007 - 06:00am PT
OK, knowing Stevie was mostly known for being the king of Speed Skiing and not having Speed Skiing pictures of him for this tribute makes it incomplete. Problem is all the Speed Skiing photos I have of him are not with me at this time, and so to put some of the essence of speed into this tribute, I did find a picture of Speed Skiing, but its of me at the World Championships in Silverton Colo entering the time warp, and so it will have to do until I can get my hands on one of the master himself. If any of you happen to have one, please feel free to post it up. I am also including some other photos I think some of you will appreciate.



Speed track in Les Arcs France


Some of the Tahoe gang at Fermins Mexican restaurant in Truckee, in the photo are left side: Sherman, Kim Schmitz, Bridwell, myself, Loonie & Dick Dorworth on the right side are Crazy Carl, Steve McKinney, Fritz, Paul Buschmann & Galen Rowell.

Pretty wild group to say the least, when the waitress saw all us walk in she turned pale white. Fermins was well known for powerful Margaritas and well this gang drank the stuff like water and of course we were all known by Fermin and the waitress for having our share of fun, and the results were well... lets just say we had to leave a big tip. Anyway, here's to Galen & Stevie, may you guys be doing some wild adventures together out there in the perimeter... your brother- Craig




Maysho

climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 11, 2007 - 08:59am PT
Thanks for the photos Craig! I saw and spoke with Carl just last thursday. Crazy no longer, he has been sober for many years now. We both volunteer for Truckee Watershed Council, and spend some time counting bugs under a microscope. He is really knowledgable about aquatic insects, though he is starting to protest more consistantly about the need to kill them to assess stream health.

I have reconnected with Paul Bushman as well, he is a new enthusiast to nordic racing. His kids got into it, now he is too.

What is Steve's son up to?

Peter
captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2007 - 09:17am PT
Ciao Peter, your right about Carl, he did quite the sauce quite sometime ago... good thing too as he always got carried away. Its good to hear your seeing him, and Bushy as well, the guy is an animal. Stevie's boy Stefan was living in Truckee, but is currently with Tommy Simons, I think he's living near Napa? Good to see your words on Stevie, he really liked you and had the utmost respect for all of you guys. We will probably be heading over next summer, I'll let you know when so we can connect. Until then you take care, tu hermano- Craig
Strongerdog

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 11, 2007 - 05:20pm PT
I was in Sweden visiting inlaws several years back. We went skiing at a fairly remote ski area called Tandadalen. I think this was not long after Steve's death. While there, I was amazed to see a framed news clip about Steve McKinney having set the speed record on the Tandadalen hill. Made me proud that an american had put it up.

Didn't they cover his speed skiing a few times on Wide World of Sports?
captain chaos

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 11, 2007 - 05:56pm PT
Yes, Wide World of Sports did cover one of the races, it was the one in Cervinia Italy. There were many of the races televised throughout the years that were aired on different networks. The Tandadalen race in Sweden was one of our mini races, if I remember right, we hit around 182 kph there. It was a small hill and they built a big ramp to start from, and we only used a 10 meter timing trap to amp up the speed some, on the record tracks we had to use a 100 meter long timing trap. Anyway, thanks for bringing that race and memory back, the mini races were fun and we always good times at them, the Swedish girls were quite nice to us as well.
Strongerdog

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 11, 2007 - 08:21pm PT
Swedish girls offer the same huge untapped potential as heli skiing in the Himalayas.

Fine lines everywhere you look....
Strongerdog

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 11, 2007 - 08:25pm PT
In the Les Arcs photo above, wasn't the track normally located in the center chute? When did they move it to the shoulder?
WBraun

climber
Nov 11, 2007 - 08:42pm PT
So Craig?

What's that place in Tahoe were I went with everyone and there's peanut shells all over the floor.

And everyone at the table doesn't get up to go piss in the toilet.

They pee in the beer pitchers and pass em to the waitresses.

The waitresses seemed to know this was normal because it was happening all night long and there was never a protest.
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