Home > Winter

US Skier Kasha Rigby Dies in Kosovo Avalanche

The well-known skier had been traveling to resorts around the world to try off-piste slopes when she died in an avalanche Tuesday.

kasha rigby skierIconic skier Catherine 'Kasha' Rigby died in an avalanche in Kosovo on Tuesday; (photo/Mary McIntyre)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

The original version of this story appeared on ExplorersWeb.

Catherine “Kasha” Rigby has died in an avalanche while skiing near Brezovica, Kosovo’s only ski resort, according to various news outlets.

The 54-year-old skier, born in Stowe, Vermont, but a longtime Colorado and Utah resident, was immersed in a project called Tour de Piste, skiing off-piste areas at resorts around the world. She published an Instagram post skiing at Brezovica shortly before EuroNews Albania reported Tuesday that a 54-year-old foreign citizen had died in an avalanche at the resort.

Her death was later confirmed by friends and colleagues. The avalanche struck at about 2:30 p.m. local time Tuesday, while Rigby was skiing in challenging weather and a temperature of about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The wall of snow swept her into trees, causing “massive internal bleeding,” according to a statement from Meteorite PR.

Her skiing partner reached her within 20 seconds and performed CPR, but Rigby still died soon after.

“This heartbreaking incident unfolded near the top where Kasha dropped in, triggering the avalanche that ultimately led to her tragic fate,” spokesperson Ruthie Rosser wrote. “She was found between two trees, and the shock and sorrow of the event are still reverberating within our community.”

An Iconic Skier

Rigby first made a name for herself in the 1990s as one of the pioneers of telemark skiing in the U.S. She adapted it into a fast, aggressive style, prompting Outside magazine to dub her “the best telemark skier in the known universe.”

Soon, she took her skis from the Rockies and Alaska to other high mountains around the world. She achieved the first descent of Cho Oyu on telemark skis and skied down 5,000’ers and 6,000’ers in India, Kamchatka, the Andes, and the Himalaya. Rigby was featured in nine skiing films.

Kasha Rigby was considered a pioneer of telemark skiing in the U.S.; (photo/Mary McIntyre)

Kasha Rigby skied often with ski legend Hilaree Nelson. Nelson sadly perished while skiing down from the summit of Manaslu in 2022. In 2010, Rigby, Nelson, Margaret Wheeler, and Alison Gannett bagged the first ski descent of the Northwest Face of the 5,982m Hanuman Tibba in the Indian Himalaya, mastering a 2,500m couloir.

Eric Henderson, a longtime friend, called Rigby a “true spirit and force in my life.”

“She always loved paths unknown, and she followed many of them throughout the beautiful winding trajectory of her life,” Henderson said in an email. “She has touched so many lives, and we will all miss her dearly.”

Outdoor photographer Ace Kvale, another old friend of Rigby’s, put it more simply.

“Badass is one description of her that actually fits,” he said.


Avalanche on Tibetan Mountain Takes 2 Lives — Other Climbers Still Missing

The missing climbers include Tenjen Lama, who set a new speed record on the 14 highest peaks this year with Kristin Harila. Read more…

Subscribe Now

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!

Join Our GearJunkie Newsletter

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!