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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    RIP Tone, tough read.

    With his mitten sticking out above the snow and his head a foot and a half below, Tony Saracelli died in the Bridger Mountains.

    It was April 14, 2018. Tony, 39, parked his Honda Accord in the Bridger Bowl parking area, buckled his boots and walked to the first chairlift. There were three lifts between him and the hike that would bring him out of Bridger Bowl territory and across toward Saddle Peak. Within an hour of his first lift, he was caught in the avalanche that killed him. Tony skied alone that day.

    Tony skied almost every day for the past 15 winters. He was not a stranger to avalanche awareness. In fact, he was the type of guy others would call for advice about snow conditions. He was the first one to suggest a day of skiing to friends, and the first one to cautiously back out if conditions were questionable.

    It seemed out of character for Tony to be there.

    The days before brought the biggest snowfall of the year. Wet, heavy, springtime powder. There was well over 3 feet of new snow atop previous rain, according to the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center report. Snow had blown off the ridge and settled on the slopes below. Wind-loaded slopes are among the most dangerous because when the snow re-settles it becomes much denser than fresh snow. However, the avalanche center reported that the slide only affected the new layer of snow. The report says, “Outside of new snow instabilities, the snowpack was strong and stable.”

    Tony’s slide was so close to Bridger Bowl that someone riding a lift saw the avalanche and made the call for help.

    Earlier, Tony ran into a friend on the hill, Matt Shortland.

    Shortland works for the ski area, filming skiers throughout the day and creating compilation videos. He also publishes the ski area’s snow report in the mornings.

    He remembers talking with Tony before he headed up the last lift. “There was no hesitation. Tony was stoked,” Shortland said.

    Shortland can’t ski out of bounds while he’s working, or he might have followed Tony up the lift.

    When Shortland moved to Montana from Missouri, he was a self-proclaimed greenhorn skier. He learned the ropes of backcountry skiing from Tony. He said Tony’s abilities always pushed him to be a better skier.

    “He had no ego, no chip on his shoulder,” he said.

    When he heard about the avalanche, he wondered if it was Tony. He knew if it wasn’t, it was another friend.

    Doug Henry, also a friend of Tony’s, said everyone who skis outside of Bridger Bowl’s boundary takes a risk. Henry and Tony skied about 40 to 50 days a season together. He said Tony analyzed everything. He would talk about the snow conditions on the chairlift, always planning and thinking about the smartest moves for the day.

    Tony skied the slope he died on dozens, possibly even hundreds of times before. But this one time, the puzzle pieces came together.

    Skiing was Tony’s passion, the thing that gave him his sense of the world. But skiing can be like a drug, and Tony was addicted.

    Skiers not only become more knowledgeable with experience, but they often ski more days. The more a person skis the more chances there is for something to happen, and Tony skied roughly 100 days a season.

    No amount of research, planning or caution can make a skier invincible. Regardless of the conditions, backcountry skiing is dangerous. If it was safe, it wouldn’t have the same charm.

    Simon Peterson, a close friend, said Tony was more cautious than most, but sometimes it’s about the itch. Tony had an itch that day.

    “The first time I saw him was in the Bridger Mountains, and the last time I saw him,” Peterson said.

    Tony was a delivery driver at Rosa’s Pizza in Bozeman for 15 years. The job suited his schedule and lifestyle. He could ski or mountain bike all day and deliver pizza in the evenings. He lived frugally. He needed enough money to fund his outdoor adventures, but not much more.

    Tony was proud of his job; he set a standard for other employees. He would never deliver more than three pizzas at a time, even though doing so would rack up more tips. He didn’t want to deliver a cold pizza.

    Dorothy Kincaid, owner of Rosa’s Pizza in Bozeman, said Tony specialized in everything he did. It didn’t matter what it was.

    “He could be mopping the floors, but he’d make sure to get the corners,” she said.

    Kincaid said when Tony worked at a shop in Colorado before moving to Bozeman, he worked a closing shift one night, when the supervisor forgot his keys. They were going to leave the store unlocked overnight, figuring the chances of something happening were slim. But instead, Tony slept on the floor of the store until his coworkers came in the next morning.

    Kincaid said she thinks of Tony as one of her children, and she fed him like one, too.

    Tony had the metabolism of a hummingbird. He was never full. Kincaid remembers his hunger fondly. While she was working, Tony would come up behind her. He was over 6 feet tall, a tower in comparison to her.

    He would stand near her, looming, until she would ask, “What would you like, Tony?”

    “Do you think you could make me something to eat?” he would ask in a hopeful voice.

    He only ever wanted cheese pizza. No fuss, no frills. He never wanted to bother anyone, Kincaid said.

    Tony was supposed to work the Saturday he died.

    The night before, his last shift at Rosa’s, he kept mentioning “all the beautiful snow,” how great the skiing would be the next day. Kincaid noticed his not-so-subtle hints and said if he got his shift covered, he could go ski.

    He assured Kincaid that he would be at work the next day.

    She said he was persistent, “No, I’m not going skiing. I’ll be here.”

    The next day when Kincaid got a call about an avalanche, she was told a 39-year-old man died near Bridger Bowl. She was relieved knowing Tony was at work.

    She didn’t know yet that Tony switched his earlier shift for a co-worker’s 5 p.m. start.

    The shop called at around 5:10 p.m. Tony hadn’t arrived yet. He was never late for work.

    Kincaid drove to Rosa’s and told the crew. Then she closed the shop for the rest of the night. Nobody was in shape to work, she said.

    Tony was a private person. He was not the type who spoke about himself.

    Tony was raised in Patterson, 60 miles north of New York City. He rarely spent time in the city, although his father was a New York City firefighter. He grew up skiing, mountain biking, fishing and berry picking. Tony loved berry picking. At his house in Bozeman, his freezer would be stocked with four or five gallon bags filled with handpicked huckleberries. Quintera said he would eat them frozen sometimes, calling them “nature’s little candies.”

    On that Saturday, when Tony reached the top of the last lift, Schlasmans lift, he ran into Aaron Lazar, a Bridger Bowl ski patroller and a friend.

    Tony was only the first or second person off the Schlasmans lift that morning.

    Lazar gave Tony a heads-up about snow conditions. He said there was some odd snow activity the previous night. The Bridger ski patrol was on edge that morning because of some natural slides in unusual places.

    Tony headed to Saddle Peak.

    When Lazar heard about the avalanche, he said he knew it was Tony. Lazar and two other patrollers responded, becoming part of the Gallatin County Search and Rescue team when they left the ski area boundary.

    Lazar was the second person to reach Tony. His face was already uncovered, but lifeless. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. He was buried for 75 minutes before they found him.

    Tony was the fourth and last person to die in an avalanche that winter in Montana. Of the four deaths in the 2018 winter season, three were skiers. It is a tragedy not easily forgotten, but an annual occurrence.

    This season, two skiers have already died, including Lazar’s brother.

    Peter Lazar, 36, triggered an avalanche and died on Feb. 26, ten months after Tony died. Peter hiked outside of the west boundary of the ski area toward Truman Gulch. Like Tony, it wasn’t even close to Peter’s first time in the backcountry. He was qualified to be there.

    Peter spoke with two skiers on his ascent up the hill. They had just finished skiing a similar line to what he was planning. They discussed snowpack and the three of them mutually affirmed it should be stable. These were the two people who soon after their chat, unburied Peter at the bottom of the slope he had hoped to ski.

    When the rescue team went to find Tony, one of them had a leftover explosive in a pocket from the morning routine of securing the snow in the ski area. Bombing the Saddle is something that’s never really done. But to make sure it was stable before skiing down to find Tony, they threw the explosive.

    Shortland said he remembers thinking, “they’re going to bomb Saddle for Tone Capone,” a nickname much of the community had for Tony.

    “When that bomb went off, it was like fireworks,” Shortland said.

    Upon impact, none of the snow slid. That didn’t guarantee the slope was safe, but they had to find him.

    Around noon, they found Tony, 1,500 feet away from where his skis slid through fresh powder and triggered an avalanche.
    Edited to fit into the seemingly arbitrary 10000 character limit.

    Full article here


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    RIP. Saddle always scares me. Seems to get a few good people every year.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    A LSD Steakhouse somewhere in the Wasatch
    everybody dies in a non predeterminted set amount of time
    some truly live in their time

    blessed are those
    thanks for the reminder nb
    "When the child was a child it waited patiently for the first snow and it still does"- Van "The Man" Morrison
    "I find I have already had my reward, in the doing of the thing" - Buzz Holmstrom
    ski on in eternal peace

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    The 8th best place in the LBP
    Thanks for posting. RIP

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    North Vancouver/Whistler
    That was a hard read but beautifully done. RIP Tone

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    RIP Tone. Seeing the pic in OB brought a tear to my eye.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Never met tone but his photos here were always a great inspiration to me. Sad article to read

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    I took exactly one run with Tony, meeting up with him by chance on a Ridge hike while skiing with my brother and Matt who both work at Bridger. Bridger had gotten something ridiculous like 20" overnight we were all looking down a long untracked line. Knowing that I was out visiting from the East Coast, Tony quickly and gladly offered me first tracks. Told me all I needed to know about him right there. RIP Tony, well remembered.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    cb, co
    Sad stuff, between this thread and the Gripen bump. Both super cool mags that I only met due to TGR taken too soon.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Methow Valley
    RIP Tone. Thanks for the article NB.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    A kindred soul. RIP

    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums
    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Profane View Post
    Keystone is fucking lame. But, deadly.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Colorado Front Range
    Quote Originally Posted by Not bunion View Post
    Edited to fit into the seemingly arbitrary 10000 character limit.

    Full article here

    Never knew him but was touched by comments about him in the previous thread, and this article was heartbreaking.

    RIP, Tone.
    Galibier Design
    crafting technology in service of music

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Tough read for sure, but what a good job the author did of painting the picture of who Tone was.

    Thanks for posting that Bunion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Not bunion View Post
    Shortland said he remembers thinking, “they’re going to bomb Saddle for Tone Capone,” a nickname much of the community had for Tony.

    “When that bomb went off, it was like fireworks,” Shortland said.
    I cracked a smile here. What a tough few seasons for the Bridger community.

    RIP Pete & Tone.
    Drive slow, homie.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    base of the Bush
    Somber read. RIP

    "If the road You followed brought you to this,of what use was the road"?

    "I have no idea what I am talking about but would be happy to share my biased opinions as fact on the matter. "

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    river city
    Tony skied his heart out, and I will remember him just as well for charging rad lines but also sharing his tea with me, Im pretty sure he would be overwhelmed at the attention, shred on high two turn

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Down by the river, Terrace, BC
    Tough read (some good takeaway though), what a great soul. RIP Tone.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2019

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    RIP Tone.

    Sent from my iPhone using TGR Forums

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