More than five years has passed since Tahoe and the skiing world lost the legendary Shane McConkey to a BASE jumping accident in the Italian Alps. Friends of McConkey recently made a trip to the bottom of the cliff to set up a permanent memorial for the fallen skier.

On March 26, 2009, McConkey, 39, was attempting a wingsuit ski BASE jump off a 2,000-foot cliff in the Dolomite Alps while filming for Matchstick Productions. Reports show that after doing a double backflip, McConkey was unable to release one of his skis. By the time it released, it was too late to open his parachute.

Paul Arthur, McConkey’s first ski coach at Squaw Valley, learned of McConkey’s passing while in Hawaii and couldn’t attend the funeral. When McConkey was around 8 years old he used to come up to Squaw from the Bay Area for the weekend and spend time with Arthur’s family.

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“Shane became another son to me,” Arthur said. “I followed him every step of his career — his magnificent exploits and doing things no one has ever done on skis.”

Arthur worked with the National Parks of Italy for permission to officially memorialize McConkey and his legacy by naming a rock on the trail to the fatal cliff-jumping site as Shane’s Rock. On Sept. 6, Arthur and his wife Alice, along with Luca and Alisa Adriani from Squaw Valley and others, traveled to Shane’s Rock. On the boulder, they left prayer flags and a stainless steel flask with an engraving that reads “Shane Forever.”

“The flask’s top is missing, allowing light to pour in and joy to pour out,” Paul said.

The group then held hands and scattered some of McConkey’s ashes that Sherry, Shane’s widow, had given the Arthurs to bring to Italy.

Mountain Forge, the Truckee blacksmith shop responsible for the eagle sculpture memorializing Shane on KT-22’s Eagle’s Nest, is making a plaque for Shane’s Rock. (See the story on Mountain Forge here.) The Italian Mountaineering Club’s trail guides will also be updated to show Shane’s Rock.

When Paul was asked how it was to visit the spot where Shane died, he choked up.

“It’s important for anyone who has lost someone to have a spot to go to and talk to them,” said Alice. “Since we never got to his memorial service, this was a good way for Paul to have closure.”

Paul and Alice were inspired to create the memorial site for Sherry and Shane’s daughter, Ayla, who was 3 when her father died.

Sherry, who thinks of the Arthurs as family, hopes to visit the memorial site in the near future, although she admits that the rock will be an extremely hard place for her to visit. Ayla is not ready to visit the site of her father’s death, but Sherry hopes she will be when she’s older. Sherry knows that Shane would feel honored by what Paul has done.

“Paul is such an amazing guy and he missed out on a memorial, so I let him go to pay his tributes,” Sherry said. “It’s a beautiful gesture.”

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Author

  • Karin Carrasco

    Karin Carrasco, Moonshine Ink’s office administrator, has lived in Truckee since 2003 after moving here from New Jersey. Carrasco studied speech communications and journalism at University of Nevada, Reno. Carrasco spends her free time enjoying her passion for dance at InnerRhythms and she also volunteers with the Truckee Donner Historical Society as well as Trails & Vistas.

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