Cordillera Blanca region, Peru – Big mountain skier Arne Backstrom has reportedly died in a fall while on a shoot with Colorado-based film producer Sweetgrass Productions in the Peru’s Cordillera Blanca region. He was 29.nDetails regarding the incident remain sketchy, including whether the incident occurred while climbing or skiing. Sources indicate that Backstrom and his team, which also included experienced ski mountaineers Kip Garre, Dave Rosenbarger and Jamie Laidlaw, were in South America to attempt a descent of the southeast face of Artesonraju, a 5,999-meter peak in the Cordillera Blanca region. The accident, however, is said to have taken place during an acclimation day on a smaller sub-peak.
Backstrom, brother of famed skier Ingrid Backstrom and professional snowboarder Ralph Backstrom, was a rapidly rising star in the world of big mountain skiing. He was crowned Freeride World Tour champion in 2009-10, his first year on the tour, and also filmed with Warren Miller Productions and Matchstick Productions. In April 2009, Backstrom visited Chamonix and successfully descended the fabled Mallory Couloir, an ice-climbing route under the Aguille du Midi that is rarely skied, and the Himalayan Face, an 11,066-foot run on the west face of Mont Blanc.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Backstrom family, Arne’s friends and the entire freeskiing community,” said Keith Carlsen, Visual Media Director for Mountain Sports International, promoters of the Freeskiing World Tour. “Arne’s talents as a skier were only surpassed by his incredible persona — a humble, quiet, caring, and passionate man.”
Backstrom grew up with his siblings at Crystal Mountain, Wash., where his parents spent decades as ski patrollers. He then moved to Squaw Valley, Calif., in August 2006 to join his brother and sister skiing the Tahoe resort’s famed steeps and to make a name for himself in the world of big mountain skiing.
“On behalf of everyone at Crystal Mountain, we wish to express our deepest sympathy to the Backstrom family and friends far-and-wide,” Crystal Mountain posted on its website Friday afternoon. “Arne, we miss you already! R.I.P.”