|Born||June 1, 1971|
Manchester, Connecticut, United States
|Died||March 7, 2012 (aged 40)|
Ranger Peak, Wyoming, United States
Steve Romeo, Jr. (June 1, 1971 – March 7, 2012) was an American ski mountaineer living in Jackson, Wyoming. Romeo was a prominent figure in the backcountry ski community of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He founded and ran the popular ski blog "TetonAT.com" which covered backcountry skiing throughout the Tetons as well as extensive gear reviews. Romeo was killed on March 7, 2012 in a large slab avalanche on Ranger Peak in the northern part of the Teton Range of Wyoming. Some criticized Romeo's skiing as being somewhat reckless, yet most of the ski community saw Romeo as a preeminent American ski mountaineer who constantly pushed the boundaries of skiing in the Tetons. Others saw him as another self-promoting eastern transplant. Together with Cary Smith, Pete Swenson and Chris Kroger, he finished ninth in the relay event of the 2006 World Championship of Ski Mountaineering. He was also known as "Randosteve", "Randomeo", "Randobewan Skinobee", "Skeve", "Ex-Steve", "Stevester", and "Stelvester Stallone".
Romeo was originally from Manchester, Connecticut, and following graduation from Marist College in 1993, he moved to Jackson Hole to work as a lift operator at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Romeo started the backcountry ski blog TetonAT.com in 2006. The site had a daily audience of over 10,000 visitors.
The popularity of TetonAT, coupled with Romeo's relatively high-profile within the ski community, led Romeo to eventually gain sponsorships with the following industry leaders: Black Diamond, Dynafit, Arc'teryx, Ortovox, GU Energy Labs, Nuun, and Mountain Khakis. Romeo skied across the globe, including notable stops throughout Europe, South America, New Zealand, Alaska, and Antarctica.
On March 7, 2012, Steve Romeo and ski partner Chris Onufer left Colter Bay and crossed Jackson Lake over three miles of ice to the base of Ranger Peak in the northern Teton Range. Their tracks continued up the mountains toward Ranger Peak with their final intended destination probably being an unskied chute located in the Waterfalls Canyon area. It is impossible to know exactly what Romeo and Onufer's plans were for the day as they had not informed anyone of specific intended routes. "They chose to go up a known avalanche path ascending into an avalanche starting zone," noted Jenny Lake Park Ranger Rich Baerwald. Romeo and Onufer's skin tracks went up most of the mountain before disappearing in the avalanche slide path. This is likely where Romeo and Onufer triggered the avalanche, as search and rescue workers discovered the tell-tale signs of an avalanche trigger point as well as a three-foot avalanche crown. Park rangers estimated that the avalanche gained speeds of up to 80 miles an hour. The avalanche debris could be seen from a distance of 14 miles, giving some measure of the size of the slide and its destructive power.
John Onufer, Chris's father, initially recognized that something was wrong when his son never showed up to meet him at the Jackson Hole Airport after flying in on the day of the avalanche. John Onufer contacted officials who quickly located the pair's car at Colter Bay. Romeo and Onufer's bodies were quickly located the day after the avalanche, as their bodies were not entirely buried in the avalanche debris that stretched for over a mile. The cause of death for both men was determined to be blunt force trauma by the Teton County Coroner.
Though the avalanche danger was listed as moderate on the day of the avalanche by the Bridger-Teton Avalanche center, the risk of a slide was increased by wind blowing loose snow onto leeward faces and loading certain aspects with additional snow, creating dangerous windslabs in certain areas. The avalanche that killed Romeo and Onufer was on a slope that had been adversely affected by windblown snow.
Some within the Jackson Hole ski community wondered if various avalanche safety equipment devices, such as an 'avalanche airbag', could have saved the two from death in the avalanche, but park rangers stated that the avalanche was unsurvivable and that no equipment could have saved them. "One piece of equipment wasn't going to have any effect on injuries," noted Buffalo Fork Ranger Rick Guerrieri. "Their best tool they had with them, they weren't using the most. That was their brain." Although Romeo may have agreed with Guerrieri's statement, many members of the skiing community felt it was hurtful and in poor taste. As one of Romeo's ski partners, Reed Finlay, reflected, "Even experts make mistakes. If you're a kid, it's a good lesson."
Romeo's website TetonAT.com posted a memorial entry to Romeo and Onufer following their deaths, but has remained otherwise silent. The page continues to carry the sponsorship of many ski industry leaders.
Romeo is survived by his parents, Elaine and Stephen Sr. Romeo, who live in Connecticut. Following the death of Steve, Elaine and Stephen Sr. went to Jackson Hole for a memorial, and they noted the amount of support from the community as a whole, pointing to Steve's impact in the area.
- Thuermer, Angus (March 9, 2012). "Park Slide Kills 2 Skiers". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
- Romeo, Steve (March 30, 2012). "Randosteve, You Are Not Forgotten". TetonAT. Archived from the original on April 11, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- Thuermer, Angus (Mar 21, 2012). "Park: Skiers Chose Their Fateful Path". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Archived from the original on July 17, 2020. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
- Romeo, Steve (May 9, 2012). "TetonAT.com contact page". TetonAT. Archived from the original on May 9, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
- Powder Magazine: Nature's Feedback, Why are so many of the best skiers dying? by Matt Hansen
- Doyle, Paul (March 29, 2012). "Parents of Mountaineer Killed in Avalanche Recall His Passion for Skiing". The Hartford Courant. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved August 12, 2012.