How did Billy Poole, an aspiring big-mountain skier, die during his first Warren Miller shoot?

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

CHAUFFEURED TO DREAMY locations and told to play as hard as they can, action-film stars are arguably the luckiest athletes on the planet—until their luck runs out. This past January, up-and-coming freeskier Billy Poole, 28, of Missoula, Montana, died in Utah’s Wolverine Cirque while filming a sequence for Warren Miller Entertainment’s 2008 release, tentatively titled Children of Winter. It was the first fatality in the production company’s 59-year history. Here, Jeremy Nobis, who was also being shot that day along with Jamie Pierre and Jenn Berg, talks us through Poole’s final descent.

The Micro-Rant

Action-sports athletes deserve real insurance—like Hollywood stuntmen. We’re sick of passing the hat at local bars to raise money for their orphans and six-figure operations. Sponsors: Get with the program.

1. After hiking to the top, at about 11:45 a.m., we all scoped our lines from where the camera was set up. Billy was going to take an easier line but, in the end, chose a more technical one. It happens all the time.
2. We each hiked to different spots on the ridge. Billy sloughed some snow, and I described the line to him over the radio based on the progress of the slough. There was a cliff. I told him that it wasn’t clean—that he’d have to clear it. He radioed back and said, “I got it.”
3. Jenn went first. I went second. We were at the bottom, looking up at Billy’s line. He went third.
4. He was skiing well—aggressively and fast. His plan was to air about 100 feet over the “peppers”—rocks that were sticking out of a steep angled slope.
5. He came up short and slammed into a rock that was five or six feet tall and at a 45-degree angle to his trajectory. His body skipped off of it, still going downhill.
6. Jamie, who was on the ridge, reached him first. Billy was conscious and talking. We hiked up to him and tried to keep him comfortable. By the time the heli arrived—about 45 minutes later—he was unconscious and we’d started CPR. I went back there the other day to make peace with it. The rock he hit was already buried in snow.

To donate to the Billy Poole Ski Foundation, visit billypoole­

promo logo