Daniel Kenan Zimmermann
March 31, 1982 ~ March 5, 2011
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." ~ John Muir
Daniel Kenan Zimmermann used every moment of his nearly 29 years to live life to the fullest. Few people were more consistently in the moment. Few were so full of joy and exuberance. Few so loved the magical mountains that we are privileged to live among here in the Wenatchee Valley. Dan perished in an avalanche on March 5, 2011, as he was backcountry skiing in the backyard of his home on Cashmere Mountain, with his love, Erin McKay, and friends. He died doing what he loved to do, what he lived to do, what made him whole. From his earliest days, Dan was always an explorer of the outdoors and of life itself. Skiing was his foremost passion and a sport at which he excelled. But he brought the same level of enjoyment and excellence to rock climbing, mountain biking and snowmobiling, and everything he did. As a youngster, Dan was active in the Boy Scouts, learning many of his outdoor skills with them. He became an Eagle Scout in 2000, building the existing sign board at Snow Lake trailhead for his Eagle project. After graduating from Cascade High School, he attended Colorado Mountain College and worked as an Electrician in Montana and Maui, before joining his father as a partner in Zimmermann Construction. His pure heart and nonjudgmental compassion was reflected on the night he died, by the flood of friends who spontaneously gathered at the end of Icicle Road, equipped to bring him to safety; under a luminous starlit sky, a rescue turned into a memorial, the first of many. The next day, about a dozen of his friends skied up to recover his body. All of them were, like Dan, current or former ski patrollers, mountain guides, ski and climbing instructors. A true band of mountain brothers and sisters, of which Dan was a central, but now missing part. We try daily to capture the essence of what Dan meant to all of us around him. But like the pure waters of the Icicle gracefully and unrelentingly flowing down valley, we can merely underscore the essential and elegant influence of his smile, passion, outlook and skills on all of our lives. Simply put, we are changed; bettered by the soft current with which Dan shaped all of our lives. The Icicle winds its way through the rock; born deep within the granitic heart of the Central Cascades, grown and sustained by blankets of a pure snowpack, artfully defining its own path, carving a new and unique future in its unrelentingly beautiful dance downhill. Ultimately, the Icicle meets the Wenatchee; its crystalline waters merge to sustain the communities and ecosystems on which so much relies. The river is not gone, just part of a larger system, now providing its purity in a different, but essential, way. We have all been carried by Dan's current; we are lucky, blessed, better people. And although he has met the confluence, we will always feel his flow throughout our lives. Dan told us, "If you don't climb the mountain, you can't see the valley below" and he's right.
Dan was a Leavenworth native, the son of Tambra and John Zimmermann; brother to Amber Zimmermann Snyder and Jay Snyder; soul mate/partner of Erin McKay; maternal grandson of Lee and Rosalie Marson, Freeman Fetters and Linda Fetters; paternal grandson to John Zimmermann Sr.; and nephew of Roxanne and Steve Hoeck, Randy and Michelle Fetters, Michael Marson and Marcia and Ralph Reed. He was a brother to all who knew him. Dan's death leaves a huge and permanent hole in the hearts of his family and friends - all of us who skied and climbed and swung hammers with him, who laughed and celebrated life with him, and who just plain loved him. We will not see his infectious grin again, catch the twinkle in his sky blue eyes, or watch in amazement as he hucks some monster cliff. But we will not forget him. The mountains he dearly loved will hold his spirit close by and they will sustain us, too.
A memorial account has been set up at Cashmere Valley Bank to support Cascade Hospital through their "paver" fundraiser. The paver will be a memorial to Dan, inscribed with a favorite Muir quote, and also help fund a piece of mountain rescue equipment.
Please join Danny Zimmermann's family and loving friends in Celebration of his Life on Thursday, March 31, 2011, (his 29th birthday) at the Leavenworth Ski Hill Lodge, from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m. Festivities will take place both outside and inside the lodge. If you wish, bring a favorite dish and a story to share.
In the healing words of John Muir ~ "Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts."