SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Brandon Zukoff was killed, at the age of 26, in an avalanche on Feb. 22, 2011. It happened while he was skiing with two friends in Sand's Chute, which is located off the edge of Sneaky's run in the Big Burn area of Snowmass, and which descends a steep and rocky slope to the East Snowmass Creek valley. All three men carried beacons, probes and shovels and began their run between 2:30 and 3:15 p.m. that day. Zukoff was the second of the three to descend the steep terrain, and he triggered the avalanche that swept him 1,000 vertical feet nearly to the bottom of the chute. The other two located him within five minutes of the slide and dug him out, but he showed no signs of life.
Officials distributed to the public a "mission statement" that Zukoff had written inside a personal photo album. This was done with the family's blessing as a way of showing the type of person Zukoff was, officials said. The mission statement reads as follows:
"As I roam the earth as a free-spirited ski bum, I want to be known as a fun-loving thrill seeker who loves nothing more in life than homemade chocolate chip cookies and a big glass of skim milk. I want to be looked at as a loyal grandson, son, brother, friend and teammate while maintaining the freedom to do things on the spur of the moment. I'm a Christian who believes all things happen for a reason, and good things happen to good people. After my days wandering this place we call earth are over, I want to be looked at and remembered as a caring man who would do just about anything for anyone. I want people to also remember me as random, intelligent, honest trustworthy, and last but not least a risk taker who loves the outdoors and skis like there's no tomorrow."
The Brandon Zukoff Shrine is located near the Big Burn area at Snowmass. It contains a carved wooden sign that says "BZ Hut," and there are also numerous laminated photos of Zukoff, a copy of a newspaper article about his death, a large copy of the mission statement that is framed and under glass, and a snowboard bench. On the bench is a black and white oval "BZ" sticker, and this is printed on the top of the board: "Peace Love and Powder." There are prayer flags draped around the shrine.
David Wood (AspenShrines@aol.com) is the author of the best-selling book about the Aspen shrines, Sanctuaries in the Snow-The Shrines and Memorials of Aspen/Snowmass. He donates all of his profits from book sales to a local charity, The Trashmasters Scholarship Fund. The book can be purchased in Snowmass Village at Snowmass Sports, the Stew Pot, Sundance Liquor and Gifts, the Village Market, and 81615, as well as at various locations in Aspen.