Top U.S. Skier Kasha Rigby Dies in Kosovo Avalanche

Catherine “Kasha” Rigby of Utah has perished in an avalanche while skiing near Brezovica, Kosovo’s only ski resort.

The 54-year-old skier, born in Vermont but a Utah resident, was immersed in a project called Tour de Piste. In it, she skied off-piste at ski resorts around the world.

On one of those descents in Kosovo, down an area known as the Eagle’s Nest, an avalanche swept Rigby into some trees. She died shortly after impact, according to The Daily Mail. Her fiancé, Magnus Wolfe Murray, was with her when it happened and tried to resuscitate her, but was unsuccessful. Euronews.albania first reported her death.

As in most parts of Europe this week, a warm spell caused rain on Kosovo’s Balkan mountains, as Rigby noted in her last Instagram post:

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 featured in nine skiing films.

Kasha Rigby skied often with another lost 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 5,982m Hanuman Tibba in the Indian Himalaya, mastering a 2,500m couloir.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.