May 24

The Mountains Claim a Friend: Joel Levenberg,

Photo: Heading into the Never Summer Wilderness Area, Colorado – May 2002

The mountains claimed the life of a wonderful soul this past Saturday, May 21, 2011. Our longtime friend, Joel Levenberg, (third from the left w/snowboard) passed away after getting caught up in an avalanche on Colorado’s Torreys Peak. He was accompanied by two close friends, and although he survived the avalanche, his injuries prevented him from making it out of the mountains alive. Joel is survived by his partner, Alexandra (“Alex”), and an incredible family of friends and relatives – most of whom will be gathering this week in Colorado. Joel was 38.

Joel’s zest for the mountains was inspiring, and his passion for exploring them ran deep. In a letter he published in Backcountry Magazine, he shares, “The untracked experience is indescribable; the pounding of my heart as I push to maintain a skinning or snowshoeing pace; gaining new perspectives or rediscovering old ones at the top; and dropping into gravity defying blower – the sublime rhythm. It is truly futile to explain, but it sure is fun trying.”

Although Joel logged most of his mountain time on a snowboard, a few of us seemed to rub off on him, and in more recent years he also learned to enjoy the mountains as a skier. As we flip through images of Joel, imagine him talking in his subtle Alabama-bred twang, and reflect on all the fun adventures we’ve shared together, it’s hard not to imagine hanging with him once again some day – if not in spirit, then in glisse heaven.

Joel, you will be missed. May the snow be deep and the views endless wherever you are now.

-Brian and Emily

Daily Camera Obituary – LINK
Summit County Voice (story and images) – May 22, 2011 – LINK
Images below feature Joel snowboarding in Rocky Mtn National Park and skiing near Mt. Zirkel, CO (Click to enlarge)

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  1. Jen (Barbour)

    If you were at the service perhaps I met you? Old, old friend of Joel’s from when he first moved to Leadville. I posted something on FB the link is below. I know he dropped off FB a while back. I don’t mean any disrespect, just to share with all the folks from Hawaii, CA, CO, VT and TX that wanted to be at the service. It was by far the most uplifting service I’ve attended. Great friends and family, unbelievable, we’ll always miss him. Thanks for your pictures and article.
    Jen Barbour
    crazy Jen


  2. Scott Weaver

    Damn. I was an old friend of Joel’s from high school in Birmingham. I was a couple of years ahead of him and hauled his happy ass to school and back for a couple years. Backcountry skiing/snowboarding seems like the perfect activity for the kid I remember from 1988. I’m both happy he was able to do something like that with his life and saddened by his passing.

    Scott Weaver

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