David Gaillard: An outside life

Many people in Bozeman live an outside life. Dave Gaillard was one. It was Dave’s passion to take himself and others out to explore the mountains, and it was his life’s work to conserve the wildlife that makes the mountains whole.

Unfortunately, Dave lost his life on one such trip on New Year’s Eve in an avalanche near Cooke City. But he left a legacy as big and lasting as the mountains, yet unimposing and accessible. More Gallatins than Absarokas.

Dave’s appreciation for and commitment to our surroundings were not unique in Bozeman, but his life was exemplary. Dave focused on species many overlook, and he became a leading voice for lesser-known predators: wolverine, lynx, fisher. He was balanced—family man, community volunteer, helpful neighbor. And he did everything with an outward air of kindness, generosity, gentleness, and fun. More lynx than wolverine.

You may have seen Dave—tall, lean, friendly, lots of red hair—telemarking Leverich, skiing the Tobacco Roots backcountry, tracking wolverine and lynx in the Centennials. He may have been with family, friends, citizen scientists, or alone. But, only 44, he was probably going old-school.

Dave recently wrote an essay acknowledging the benefits of alpine touring skis but extolling telemarks: “Somehow tele gear immerses me more in the present, the process, or the means that become the ends,” he wrote. “Sure, the descent is typically the highlight, but the route-finding, setting an efficient skin track, using the right combination of skins and wax, happening upon a sublime lunch spot, observing wildlife, and of course the companionship are every bit as important as the vertical.”

Dave made great contributions to our community and outdoors, and he will be missed.