Rob Kincaid Tribute
So when I got the text that Rob Kincaid had died in an avalanche, I just laid in bed feeling gutshot. I kept thinking about his family, how hard it must be for them. And for his close friends, people like David McClure.
I didn’t know Rob Kincaid nearly that well, but we had met and chatted on a few different occasions and that was all it took for Rob to make you feel like a friend—like part of his circle. Of all the things that made him such a giant personality and star, his ability to connect with people was at the forefront.
We experienced a perfect example of Rob’s welcoming nature a little more than a month ago, when two of us from Mountain Sledder spent a morning riding and filming with Rob and his son, Riley.
While we gathered footage of Arctic Cat’s 2021 sleds, we chatted with Rob about his professional life, the state of the industry and about Riley’s singular passion for snowmobiling. And Riley put on an impressive display of riding for us—encouraged and coached all the way by Rob. In a way, it felt as thought we were witness to a passing of the torch from father to son. I’m glad we were there to see it.
Whenever some tragic event steals away one of our own too soon, I can’t help but think that the risk we sometimes take when we follow our passion for riding in the mountains is too high.
I used to think somehow that the guides, athletes and people who spend so much time in the mountains are above the dangers of the backcountry—immortal—or at least, that they would never be the ones caught in an avalanche, or dying from injury or getting lost and spending the night. While these events are bound to happen, I expected them to be the misfortune of some random, inexperienced riders who I’d never met.
But that sentiment has proven wrong more times than I’d like to count. Even the strongest riders, the most experienced guides, the most legendary personalities—the people we look up to—are not immune to the dangers inherent in our activity of choice. Rob had achieved everything there is to do in snowmobiling from winning hillclimb racing World Championships to travelling the world and riding in the backcountry as a sponsored athlete, but even that experience was not enough.
Each time we lose a member of our community, it’s a fresh reminder to me—like a stab in a wound that will not heal—that we are all subject to the whim of the mountains.
Over the many years of his tenure as an ambassador of this sport, Rob touched so many people with his easy-going, friendly personality. I’ve heard it from others, and I agree from experience that Rob could make anyone feel welcome with a conversation and a joke.
I say, let Rob’s legacy, for the so many of us who he has welcomed into his life, even briefly, be to follow our passion of experiencing the backcountry—or as he called it, “God’s Country”. But to do it with thought and care, so that we may come home to those who we have touched with our own lives.