Littleton

Heritage grad dies skiing in New Zealand

Services for Jeffrey Atkinson set for Oct. 25

Posted 10/11/15

He couldn't have known that his online posts after graduating from college would be tragically prophetic:

“Last summer ever. Better make it an epic one!”

That's what 22-year-old Jeffrey Atkinson wrote on several Facebook posts earlier this …

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Littleton

Heritage grad dies skiing in New Zealand

Services for Jeffrey Atkinson set for Oct. 25

Posted

He couldn't have known that his online posts after graduating from college would be tragically prophetic:

“Last summer ever. Better make it an epic one!”

That's what 22-year-old Jeffrey Atkinson wrote on several Facebook posts earlier this summer on photos showing that he did, indeed, live epically — dangling from icy mountainsides, snowboarding, backpacking through desserts, constantly seeking the next adventure in Canada, Australia, Alaska and even just in his hometown of Littleton.

In September, he arrived in a faraway land with the same name as his childhood home, and the last land he would ever set foot on.

“Turns out New Zealand's Lyttleton is way cooler then the Littleton I hail from,” he wrote from Lyttleton Port, Christchurch, in New Zealand.

But on Oct. 5, the Heritage High School graduate fell to his death while back-country skiing with a friend off the back of the Treble Cone summit.

“The two men were skiing off the back of the summit when Jeffrey slipped and travelled about 500 metres down a 30-degree slope,” Wanaka Senior Sgt. Allan Grindell told the paper. “The Alpine Cliff Rescue team and LandSAR located Jeffrey and attempted CPR, but he was unresponsive. They then brought him off the mountain.”

Whitney Thurlow, chief guide at Aspiring Guides, told The Wanaka Sun that conditions would have been icy and windy in the area Atkinson was skiing on Monday.

“It's not a very dangerous place, but there are some steep gullies, and if you fell down them in icy conditions, you would have a bad outcome. They weren't doing anything unusual or reckless, but at all times on the mountain there are places you wouldn't want to slip.”

His Facebook page is now overflowing with memories, condolences and words of love from friends and family.

“You were a wonderful friend, and an inspiring person to know,” writes Somer Falkenstine. “I know that I, along with everyone else who knew you, will forever be in love with the memories we have with you, and the light you brought to our lives. You were such an adventurer and lived life the way it was supposed to be lived. Thank you for that, for you made the rest of us feel more alive with your presence.”

Atkinson graduated in May from Montana State University with a degree in chemical engineering and a minor in photography. He'd worked at Play Well TEKnologies as a teacher since 2013.

A memorial service will be held Oct. 25 at Waterstone Community Church, 5890 S. Alkire St., at 2:30 p.m.

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