In the age of acute political backcountry correctness, being insulted or yelled at by Bob Athey, aka The Wizard of the Wasatch, is a badge of honor. I almost feel sorry for the up and coming youngsters who have missed out on it. Bob is an equal opportunity offender, so you can’t take it too personally, and I’ve heard his style referred to as a “Hell’s Kitchen How-Dee-Do.” As a designer at Black Diamond, Bob would frequently tell me my prototype designs sucked ass and were obviously designed by some desk-bound moron. Thanks Bob! How was the skiing? “Pretty good if you like deep powder.”
I also had a chance to work with Bob when I was an Avalanche Forecaster at the UAC when Bob was the lone full-time backcountry agent in charge of skiing around and looking at snow. He didn’t send in reports every single day, although when he did, your work was done – they were always incredibly insightful and cut to the bone. There could be six new feet of snow, but if the danger was moderate, it was moderate. We’d get about 5-6 backcountry observations per day, and if one was a “Bob Ob” you were golden. All you had to do was remove the profanity, tone down the social commentary and the daily report was done.
Bob is also one of the original Heli Free Wasatch Gangstas and taught me all I know about backcountry encounters with the P Turds. “Maximum profanity. Ignore the guides and focus on the guests.” Landing on Bob would be like stepping on a Bouncing Betty landmine.
Bob recently had a bit of bad luck when a battery charger caught fire and burned his kitchen down. Not only did he get some bad burns while escaping the house, he also came down with pneumonia and was hospitalized for ten days or so, which is especially painful given how good the skiing has been lately. To top that off, he’s been evicted from his house of 20 or so years.
A YouCaring site has been set up for Bob at: https://www.youcaring.com/bobathey-741550 and any donations would be appreciated (at least by me).
Get well soon Wizard! The mountains are empty without you.