The ski community has lost yet another bright young light.
I didn’t know Matt Heffernan all that well, but I called him a friend, and what little I knew about him, I liked a lot. I knew that although he hailed originally from Cleveland, he spent his winters in Utah chasing Wasatch powder, and summers in Oregon shredding the Palmer Snowfield with his buddies. His smiling face and relaxed demeanor were fixtures of the Mount Hood summer scene, whether he was slanging salt bags at the top of Palmer with the Hill Crew, sessioning the Windell’s Camp lane after work, or enjoying another round at Charlie’s with the homies.
I also knew that Heff was the recipient of a rare gift: his talent for skiing was just as great as his passion for it was. Whether he was lacing a sketchy backcountry line or stepping up to an even sketchier urban setup, Heff’s abilities on two planks were unbelievably diverse, and he surely had a bright future ahead of him. From a photographer’s perspective, his cork 720 blunt was a masterpiece on the same order as the Mona Lisa—spun just right, grabbed just right—but then again, just about everything that Heff did on skis looked good, at ease, totally natural.
Heff’s ability as a skier was surpassed only by his abilities as a human being. He had amazing reserves of kindness, patience, sympathy and friendship; could always be counted on to lend a helping hand; was courteous, respectful, and quick to make friends with anyone he met. He had an honest and straightforward air about him that made him impossible not to like.
Like many of his peers, Heff enjoyed pushing the limits. But with his wisdom and his character, that of someone well beyond his years, no one ever thought that Heff would be one of the ones who goes too soon.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that on Friday, August 14, Matt Heffernan never resurfaced after performing a double backflip off a 60-foot cliff into a reservoir in Utah. His body was recovered the next day after an extensive search.
A well-known and well-liked member of the Salt Lake ski community, the loss of Heff has been a stunning blow to his family and friends, many of whom took to social media over the weekend to share Heff stories. Here are a few remembrances.