Friends remember Krauss as avid boarder, outdoorsman
Paul Krauss, co-founder and longtime owner of the first snowboarding shop in the Roaring Fork Valley, died of a heart attack last Friday following a rafting trip through Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River in Utah. He was 35.
An avid outdoorsman, Krauss had a passion for hunting, hiking, rafting, mountain biking, and, above all else probably, snowboarding.
“He was into mountain biking, but it wasn’t like he was crazed about it like he was snowboarding,” said close friend Jeff Krasnoff.
“He was definitely one of the first snowboarders in the valley,” added pal Jason Lee Beavers. “Paul probably started boarding in ’85, and I started in ’86, and back then, there were only a few of us.”
Krauss, a Snowmass Village resident, and friend Charles Rutledge launched Sidewinder Sports in Snowmass Village in 1988, officially putting boarding on the map in the Aspen/Snowmass area.
“He was a good friend to all the kids who grew up snowboarding in the valley,” Beavers said. “He looked after ’em, he was a good egg.”
A native of New Jersey, it was firefighting work with the U.S. Forest Service that first drew Krauss to the West. “After that, he just fell in love with the area,” said Krasnoff.
Krauss then worked at several area restaurants before opening Sidewinder, “at the dawn of the shred age,” said Krasnoff.
“I adored him, I loved him very much, but he was loved by many,” said Clare Fuller, Krauss’ girlfriend.
Last week’s rafting trip through Westwater Canyon was the couple’s first rafting outing together, Fuller explained.
“I’d never rafted before, so this was the trip. He’d just gotten me a wet suit and boots for my birthday, so I could spend more time with him, ’cause that’s what he was always doing in the summer,” Fuller said.
The two-day, overnight trip had gone well into Friday, despite some difficulties with rapids that overturned a few of the seven-member party’s three boats and stranded Krauss temporarily on the river bank. Nonetheless, the entire group made it safely through to quieter waters. With the three boats lashed together to form a flotilla, the group began lunch on the river, when Krauss, who had suffered from seizures in the past and was being treated with medication, began to feel poorly.
“Paul didn’t feel so good, but that’s common with him, because of the medication,” Fuller said. “But he’s one of those people who’s always up, and he was in a good mood.”
The flotilla soon reached the takeout point and the party busied themselves packing up the boats and gear. Krauss’ condition then worsened; he complained of lightheadedness and nausea, Fuller said.
“He said he was going to faint and I helped him to the ground, but he got better and he sprung back up from that,” Fuller recalled. “Then he started throwing up, and he said, `I think I’m going to pass out again,’ and I helped him back down again, but he didn’t start seizing – I think it was the blood clot then.”
The heart attack was apparently brought on by a blood clot in his heart. The party performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him for an hour before professional medics arrived via helicopter and took over. Shortly afterward, Krauss was pronounced dead.
“He was doing what he loved,” Fuller said. “He was a great guy and I had the best year of my life hanging out with him.”
“He sure is going to be missed by everybody, he was a good friend to all,” said Krasnoff, a member of the rafting party.
Memorial services for Krauss will be held tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the base of Two Creeks in Snowmass Village. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in his name at Alpine Bank in Snowmass Village.
Beavers said Krauss loved to board on Burnt Mountain (above Elk Camp at Snowmass) and that he and friends hope to build a bench there in Krauss’ memory.
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