Adam Dennis recalled as ‘best person in the world’

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Photo courtesty of Zach LentzAdam Dennis, shown here during a previous backcountry trip, died in an avalanche Monday while skiing Desolation Row, which is located between Maroon Bowl and Tonar Bowl on the west side of Highlands Ridge.

ASPEN – Friends of Adam Dennis said Tuesday their memories of all the great times they had with the adventurous, kind-hearted man will eventually overtake their grief over his death in an avalanche Monday.

He was universally described as someone who had a passion for outdoor adventure and the mountain lifestyle that he immersed himself in since moving to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1997. He was an excellent photographer, a fan of Widespread Panic and other jam bands, and someone who loved to chill with his friends.

“He was just the best person in the world. He was full of life, full of spirit,” said Tim O’Connell, who said he considered Dennis his best friend over the last decade. They spent a lot of time together on outdoor adventures, especially skiing, and had numerous “delirious times” at concerts.

O’Connell said Dennis is the kind of guy who will be “universally” remembered as an all-around good guy and someone who had a positive relationship with virtually everyone he met.

Sam Ferguson befriended Dennis shortly after Dennis moved to the Aspen area. He said his fondest memory will be of “the big smile that he had.” Dennis was very generous and would do anything for his friends, Ferguson said.

Another close friend, Ray McNutt, noted that Dennis had between 150 and 200 comments on his Facebook page from friends and well-wishers before noon Tuesday as word of his death spread. Everybody liked the guy.

McNutt said Dennis always had a smile on his face and “didn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

“He was truly an amazing guy. He just loved living life,” said McNutt, who met and befriended Dennis when they worked together at The Little Nell hotel.

Dennis, 38, grew up in Denver and was a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, according to a Google profile he filled out and posted online. He received a degree in photojournalism from Metro State College of Denver and pursued his passion for photography after moving to the Roaring Fork Valley. He specialized in outdoor sports and adventure photography. Numerous shots of his have been featured on outdoor- and skiing-related websites, and he worked as a freelance photographer with the Aspen Skiing Co. Dennis was divorced and had no children. His immediate family included his parents, a sister and at least one brother, friends said.

In addition to working as a self-employed photographer, Dennis also worked in the hospitality business, first at the St. Regis, then as a doorman for seven years at The Little Nell before joining the Viceroy Hotel in Snowmass Village in March 2010. He was a valet supervisor at the Viceroy.

Viceroy General Manager Hugh Templeman sent a stirring e-mail to members of the Viceroy family about the loss of their friend and colleague.

“Such an outdoor enthusiast and lover of life, I am entranced by his passion for skiing,” Templeman wrote. “From the very start of this season he was chasing powder, even driving hours to get to first falls in Utah. It is a hard fact of life that in these mountains you eventually get to know someone who loses their life so unfortunately. It seems little consolation, but a truth nevertheless, that he left this world doing something he was extremely passionate about.”

In his Google profile, Dennis described himself as a “passionate skier, biker, hiker, camper and overall mtn lifestyle. Enjoy music, social situations and love to travel.”

Ferguson said the walls of Dennis’ room at his residence in Aspen are covered with photographs he took at concerts, official concert posters and tickets to shows he has attended.

O’Connell said he attended scores of shows with Dennis and found an added benefit to hanging out with his 6-foot, 6-inch tall friend. “When you went to a concert, it was easy to find your group because he stood out like a beacon,” he said.

McNutt, Ferguson and O’Connell all said they will cherish memories of outdoors adventures they took with Dennis. For McNutt, it was super-long day hikes that especially stand out. For O’Connell, it will be skiing adventures.

“He was always excited for the next adventure and the next powder day,” O’Connell said. “He always had that sparkle in his eye.”