With a passion for mountains, oceans, and music, you are bound to have a connection with just about everyone in our community, and that was certainly the case for Bela Vadasz, who we lost suddenly and unexpectedly on Sept. 15. Bela was well known as a mountain guide, a shaper of surfboards, and a percussionist. He is survived by his sons, Tobin and Logan, and by his best friend, life partner, and co-founder of Alpine Skills International, Mimi Maki Vadasz.
Bela was born in Hungary and, with his parents, escaped the communist takeover and immigrated to the United States, ultimately settling in San Francisco. His parents introduced him to the Sierra Nevada in all seasons at a young age. Bela met Mimi at San Francisco State. They climbed and skied together and formed ASI, a Truckee-based mountain guiding service and climbing and ski school. ASI operated a lodge on Donner Summit — the Donner Spitzhütte — for nearly 25 years. Through ASI, Bela guided and taught thousands of climbers and skiers to be not only competent mountaineers, but to love the mountains and carry that spirit with them in all aspects of their lives.
Bela had a long list of impressive accomplishments in the mountains, both personally and as a guide and a mentor for other guides. Bela also used his talents for teaching mountain skills to serve his country by training mountain leaders and assault climbers for the U.S. Marine Corps and special operations forces. He received numerous awards and recognition of his achievements and contributions.
Throughout his life, Bela also pursued his passions in both surfing and music. He was a founder and percussionist with the Truckee-based band Montaña, and in recent years formed Vadasz Surfboards, in Oceanside, Calif., which manufactures surfboards designed and tested by his sons.
But it was not accomplishment that drove Bela. It was the experience, the adventure, and sharing it with others, especially his sons that gave him fulfillment and joy. As Mimi has so beautifully said, “Bela did not do things to advance himself; he didn’t have a tick list. He loved to share his passion, whether it was skiing, climbing, surfing, music, communicating, encouraging, or believing in people more than they believed in themselves.”
A celebration of Bela’s life will be held on Sat., Oct. 17 at 1:30 p.m. in the Judah Lodge at Sugar Bowl. There will be a potluck (please bring a dish) and Montaña will play a set. All are welcome, but please RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Truckee resident Dave Riggs is a guide with Alpine Skills International and a long-time friend of Bela’s and the Vadasz family.