Pioneering ski guide dies in freak Alaska accident

Dena Rosenberry
Colorado Spring Gazette
Courtesy of Backcountry Access Theo Meiners, in Anchorage recently at the International Snow Science Workshop.

Even among the world’s hungriest powderhounds, Theo Meiners loomed larger than life.

He relished first tracks and epic downhills and turned that passion into a profession, becoming a pioneering backcountry skier and internationally known heli-skiing guide.

Meiners, 59, a Colorado native and a graduate of Widefield High School in Colorado Springs, died Sept. 20 in a freak accident in Anchorage, Alaska.

He owned and operated Alaska Rendezvous Heli-Guides near Valdez and lived most of the year in Alaska, said his sister Lori Muehlbauer, of Colorado Springs. When he wasn’t there he lived and guided skiers in Jackson Hole, Wyo., or was exploring the world.

Meiners fell more than 30 feet to his death from an escalator at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center, site of the International Snow Science Workshop, Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Marlene Lammers said.

Initial reports stated Meiners had attempted to ride the escalator’s handrail, but police opened an investigation on the incident.

Images in the security video in the convention center are unclear, police told family members. Meiners died at the scene.

If it turns out Meiners was attempting to ride the handrail, it would not be out of character, Muehlbauer said. It would have been an impulse move because he was enjoying the week.

“He was happy. He was with friends,” said Muehlbauer.

The conference, a gathering of snow scientists and avalanche experts, is held every two years. Meiners had been a presenter at the convention and was with several other workshop attendees at the time of the accident.

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