Whitman Wire

Remembering Kip Rand

Jordan O'Roy, Staff Reporter

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On Saturday, January 20, the Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival held the Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort. Kip Rand, who was the director of the Wallowa Avalanche Center in Pendleton, Ore., died on March 7, 2017 in an avalanche while skiing Mt. Joseph. This festival not only commemorated Kip Rand, but it also pursued many of Rand’s teachings and beliefs as junior Mary Noyes explained.

“The festival was about supporting the niche backcountry community in Eastern Oregon. It raised money for the Wallowa Avalanche Center (WAC), which is an extremely valuable, non-profit, safety resource, and brought people from the community together,” Noyes said.Contributed by WAC

As the Kip Rand Memorial Backcountry Race came upon us, Whitman students who participated in Rand’s Avy courses over the last couple of years recalled their last moments with the inspiring instructor. Senior Jacob Fritz participated in one of Rand’s instructed Avy 1 courses, and recalls that Rand was a very humble, thoughtful and inspiring instructor as he continued to share his love for skiing through his teachings.

“The Avalanche course I took with him was great, I mean he was a fun-loving guy, but also understood (and helped us understand) that there is a time for enjoying yourself and relishing the experience in the mountains, but also times for strictly business, especially when evaluating situations and routes in the backcountry. He would laugh a lot and when he got stoked on a location, line or some new snowfall, you could hear it creep into his voice. He was a really cool dude who knew his stuff well and challenged himself. Plus, like I said, he ripped,” Fritz explains.

In many ways you could say that Rand was a true member of the Whitman community. Rand attended many film screenings and other events around Whitman, such as the events that the Wallowa Avalanche Center put on along with the Backcountry Club and Outdoor Program in which many Whitman Students are involved.

Therefore, in honor of Kip Rand, it comes to no surprise that Whitman’s very own Backcountry Club participated in the Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival. This would also be the very first uphill/downhill ski race that the club has ever participated in. The uphill/downhill ski race consisted of trekking 3 miles on the snow-covered mountains of the Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, along with two very necessary transition periods allowing the participants to catch their breath as they put on or removed climbing skins and ski’s. It is moments like these that create memories to last a lifetime, as Whitman student Harry Sherman reflects upon the first uphill/downhill race in history of the Backcountry Club.Contributed by WAC

“After the up/down race there was a band playing in the saloon in the parking lot. The whole place was packed with Eastern Oregon backcountry skiers and snowboarders. I would guess that a significant chunk of the whole Eastern Oregon backcountry community was there – there aren’t very many of us. There was a pretty wide range of ages, and we all danced the night away as a big group. Afterwards, some people drove back to the valley, but a whole bunch more went and skinned out to huts and yurts where they’d continue celebrating. Still other people, like me, Ian Bird and Gabe Weight, set up camp in the parking lot, hopped in sleeping bags and huddled in a tent,” Sherman said.

Aside from skiing, the Backcountry Club also attended a ski movie premiere of “Rogue Elements” the Friday night before the Festival. It was events like these, that the Wallowa Avalanche Center would put on, that kept Kip Rand tied into communities from Eastern Oregon to Walla Walla. Overall, the Eastern Oregon Backcountry Festival was a huge success, and it is with great honor that the community continues to remember him as he was; an inspiring, humble man who undoubtedly ripped.Contributed by WAC

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Remembering Kip Rand