Courtney Skinner loved to tell a good story. They were epic tales born of his 85 years in this world. They were tales that enchanted, daunted and amused generations of people, because Courtney was a man unafraid to walk, talk and laugh tall on the mountains he called home. (He also liked to compose bad, rhyming poetry, especially in letters to his kids and grandkids.)
A man of words from his birth in 1936 to his passing in 2021, he wrote more than a few definitive chapters in the book of what an adventurous and deliberate life could and should be. Because, you have to take being alive seriously (with a pinch of good humor and Copenhagen) if you want to do something like climbing Everest, Aconcagua, Orizaba, or Denali, which Courtney did. But more than that, he enabled others to come with him. Because, what is a good story if not a way to take someone on a journey? To guide them to places they can only imagine.
In Courtney’s case, he lived out dreams, big ones that breathed success, and sometimes failure, but nonetheless, bringing both into the world with gusto. There’s a peak in Antarctica and a lake in the Wind River Mountain Range named after him. That says something. What it says to all who survived him was that his vast experiences and expertise became the bedrock upon which other lives could be safely built. Out in this world there are hundreds, if not thousands, of folks whose own stories were forged in part by this man from Wyoming who truly knew a few things about mountains, the wild, laughter and living.
Courtney often said, “There are no strangers in the mountains, only a friend you haven’t met” and “I’ll see you in the mountains.” Not a farewell, but a greeting, because he knew the wilderness, like life, can be unkind and unforgiving. Yet, he did everything in his power to make sure you’d know what to do if things went badly. To make sure you were still with him. To this end, Courtney’s stories have met their moment, because, like the man, they now pass into legend.
Courtney leaves the earthly skiing, climbing and dreaming to spouse Maria Theresa Dulzaides Skinner of Pinedale, Wyo., daughters Kezia Skinner Windham and spouse Erik of Parker, Colo., and Darcy Jay Skinner and spouse Brad Reed of Anchorage, Alask., and their mother Mary Tyler of Denver, Colo.; grandchildren Tristan Skinner Windham, Bjorn Skinner-Reed and Lars Skinner-Reed; brothers and their spouses Monte and Donna Skinner, Quentin and Arlene Skinner, and Ole and Karen Skinner; beloved nieces and nephews Brian, Ellen, Mary Kay, Amy, Orion, Holly, Quentin, Katrina, Therese, Ndi, Ntala, and Ian, Arturo, and Carlos and their families. Courtney’s brothers Bud and Bob (Doris) Skinner, nephew Todd Skinner, and grandson Garrison Windham found new ski slopes and summits before him.
Plant a flag to remember Courtney by contributing to the Museum of the Mountain Man, Tip Top Search and Rescue in Pinedale, or other organization he’d appreciate.
A celebration of Courtney’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, 2021, at the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale, Wyo.