March 16, 2011
Obituary of Daniel Kenan
March 31, 1982 – March 5, 2011
“Climb the mountains and
get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow
their freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leafs.”
Daniel Kenan Zimmermann used every moment of his nearly 29 years to
live life to the fullest. Few people were more consistently in the moment. Few were so full of joy and exuberance.
Few so loved the magical mountains that we are privileged to live among here in the Wenatchee
Dan perished in an avalanche on March 5 as he was backcountry skiing
in the backyard of his home on Cashmere Mountain with his love, Erin McKay, and friends. He died doing what he
loved to do, what he lived to do, what made him whole.
From his earliest days, Dan
was always an explorer of the outdoors and of life itself. Skiing was his foremost passion and a sport at which he
excelled. But he brought the same level of enjoyment and excellence to rock climbing, mountain biking, and
snowmobiling, and everything he did. As a youngster Dan was active in the Boy Scouts, learning many of his outdoor
skills with them. He became an Eagle Scout in 2000, building the existing sign board at Snow Lake trailhead for
his Eagle project. After graduating from Cascade High School he attended Colorado Mountain College, and worked as
an electrician in Montana and Maui before joining his father as a partner in Zimmermann Construction.
His pure heart and nonjudgmental compassion was reflected on the night he died by the flood
of friends that spontaneously gathered at the end of Icicle Road equipped to bring him to safety; under a luminous
starlit sky, a rescue turned into a memorial, the first of many. The next day about a dozen of his friends skied
up to recover his body. All of them were, like Dan, current or former ski patrollers, mountain guides, ski and
climbing instructors. A true band of mountain brothers and sisters, of which Dan was a central, but now missing
We try daily to capture the essence of what Dan means to all of us
around him. But like the pure waters of the Icicle gracefully and unrelentingly flowing down valley, we can merely
underscore the essential and elegant influence of his smile, passion, outlook, and skills on all of our lives.
Simply put, we are changed; bettered by the soft current with which Dan shaped all of our
The Icicle winds its way through the rock; born deep within the granitic heart of
the Central Cascades, grown and sustained by blankets of a pure snowpack, artfully defining its own path,
carving a new and unique future in its unrelentingly beautiful dance downhill.
the Icicle meets the Wenatchee; its crystalline waters merge to sustain the communities and ecosystems on which so
much relies. The river is not gone, just part of a larger system, now providing its purity in a different, but
We have all been carried by Dan’s current; we are lucky, blessed,
better people. And although he has met the confluence, we will always feel his flow throughout our
lives. Dan told us, “if you don’t climb the mountain, you can’t see the valley
below” and he’s right.
Dan was a Leavenworth native, the son of Tambra
and John Zimmermann, brother to Amber Zimmermann Snyder and Jay Snyder, soul mate/partner of Erin McKay, and
maternal grandson of Lee and Rosalie Marson, Freeman Fetters and Linda Fetters and paternal grandson to John
Zimmermann Sr. He was a brother to all who knew him.
Dan’s death leaves a
huge and permanent hole in the hearts of his family and friends - all of us who skied and climbed and swung
hammers with him, who laughed and celebrated life with him, and who just plain loved him. We will not see his
infectious grin again, catch the twinkle in his sky blue eyes, or watch in amazement as he hucks some monster
cliff. But we will not forget him. The mountains he dearly loved will hold his spirit close by and they will
sustain us, too.
A memorial account has been set up at Cashmere Valley Bank to
support Cascade Hospital through their “paver” fundraiser. The paver will be a memorial to Dan,
inscribed with a favorite Muir quote, and also help fund a piece of mountain rescue equipment.
Please join Danny Zimmermann’s family and loving friends in celebration of his life on
March 31st, 2011 (his 29th birthday) at the Ski Hill Lodge, from 3:00 to 10:00pm. Festivities will take place both
outside and inside the lodge.
“Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever
is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.” (