Friends and family remember the four men who lost their lives in avalanches Sunday.

Share story

The four men who died in two avalanches Sunday were all experts who loved their sport and the outdoors, but they were more: devoted fathers, boyfriends, sons and friends:

Karl Milanoski, 41

While the Seattle snowboarder who was killed near Alpental was crazy about snowboarding, his 11-year-old daughter always came first.

Milanoski was swept off a cliff by an avalanche near the resort Sunday.

Family said their beloved brother and son grew up in Oak Harbor and attended Oak Harbor High School.

He was an expert snowboarder and an avid outdoorsman.

“Karl was a veteran rider,” said his brother John Anderson, of Seattle. “He knows that mountain like the back of his hand. He’s not the kind of guy that’s gonna go crazy out there and take a bunch of risks, but he was an experienced rider and he liked to have fun.”

Milanoski was a jack-of-all trades who often did carpentry during his day-to-day life but scheduled his work around caring for his daughter, said brother John Milanoski, of Lake Stevens.

“She was the highlight of his existence,” he said.

Chris Rudolph, 30

While working for Stevens Pass Mountain Resort for eight years, Rudolph became family to his co-workers and the resort’s regulars.

A resident of Leavenworth and the ski resort’s director of marketing services, Rudolph grew up in the San Francisco area, said friend John Gifford, the resort’s general manager.

Rudolph, a graduate of the University of Puget Sound, was passionate about all things outdoors — hiking, mountain biking and sailing in addition to skiing.

“No grass grew under Chris’ feet,” Gifford said. “He was always doing something. His passions were endless.”

Rudolph was close with his girlfriend and devoted to Stevens Pass, according to family.

Matt Wainhouse, a 23-year-old snowboarder with a season pass to the mountain, said it plainly: “Chris was Stevens Pass.”

Jim Jack, 46

Known to friends as Jimmy or J.J., the free-spirited Jack grew up in Redmond. He started skiing when he was 5, said his father, Norman Jack, of Arizona.

Jack grew up to become an expert skier and head judge for two international freeskiing organizations: the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and the International Freeskiers Association.

“Freeskiing” is a catch-all term for extreme skiing, and Jack was the ultimate cheerleader for the sport, said Adam Comey, a friend and the president of Mountain Sports International, which runs the Freeskiing World Tour.

Jack was well-known in the Leavenworth area: At Uncle Uli’s Pub, a bar and restaurant, a burger and sauce on the menu has long been named for him by owner and friend T.R. Revere.

As a judge, Comey said, Jack wanted athletes to be mindful of the sport’s risks but to show creativity.

More important, Comey stressed, Jack was a great friend.

“He really, honestly cared about anyone he talked to, and especially somebody that shared a common passion,” he said. “He could hold a conversation with you for as long as you were willing to talk, and if it was about skiing, it could go on all night.”

John Brenan, 41

Along with being a highly experienced skier, John Brenan was a loving husband and father of two daughters.

Brenan, known to many as Johnny, attended Wenatchee Valley College, as did Jim Jack. Both studied ski-resort management, friends said.

After college, Brenan moved to Colorado to work on a resort ski patrol before returning to Washington state to do the same at Stevens Pass, according to friend Matt Black, of Leavenworth.

Brenan later became a contractor — “the best there was,” Black said — who paid attention to details.

Skiing was a passion, but Brenan’s Facebook profile is dominated by photos of his two daughters.

He was family-oriented, said Revere, a friend of all three Leavenworth men.

Bear Wickwire, a 39-year-old high-school social-studies teacher in Roslyn, Kittitas County, said Brenan, Jack and Rudolph were rocks in the community.

“All I know is that Johnny and Jim and Chris had some tremendous life force about them,” Wickwire said. “All of those guys — larger than life. Very vibrant characters. Always positive. Always strong.”

Lark Turner: 206-464-2761 or lturner@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @larkreports.