Mitch was born and raised in South Lake Tahoe and embodied the true definition of a mountain man. He was an exceptionally gifted athlete and leader. He was passionate, adventurous, spiritual, giving, and strong. His life work and career was about serving his community and the public as a ski patroller, backcountry ranger, and finally as a Paramedic Firefighter. Mitch was an inspiration to all who knew him and continues to inspire. Mitch passed away in September 2013, leaving his wife and young sons Mason and Cedar to continue his legacy and love of the mountains.
Mitch had a deep connection to the mountains and said that the higher he climbed, the closer he felt to God. From an early age, Mitch loved exploring Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada—with a particular affection for Yosemite National Park and the east side of the Sierra. Mitch was a natural athlete. His preferred sports were rock climbing, skiing, surfing, and paddleboarding. From elementary school through middle school, he participated in the Buddy Warner ski program at Sierra-at-Tahoe. At age 17, Mitch and his best friend, Ryan Shreve, climbed the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite for their senior high school project. Mitch’s passion for the outdoors continued on with thousands of adventures that included surfing and climbing trips to Thailand, Nicaragua, Hawaii, the European Alps, and Alaska. There is no doubt that Mitch lived his life to its fullest—every day.
His love of the outdoors ultimately led him to his beloved wife Sarah Underhill (Felchlin) who shared his passion for climbing, adventure, and Lake Tahoe. Mitch and Sarah were married at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park in 2007 and have two boys, Mason James and Cedar Matthew who are now 5 and 3.5 years old. Mitch was a proud and exceptional father and adored his young sons. He frequently took them on backpacking, climbing, skiing, paddleboarding, and fishing excursions. Mitch was seen often paddleboarding with his oldest son, Mason and springer spaniel, Juniper at Baldwin Beach, Rubicon Point, and Emerald Bay. Mitch also had a profound love for music and was a beautiful guitarist, playing music for his wife and sons daily.
Mitch graduated from South Tahoe High School in 1997 and received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Westmont College, Montecito, CA in 2002. While at college, Mitch gained an appreciation for surfing and the Pacific Ocean. Over the years after college, he worked as ski patrol for Sierra-at-Tahoe and as a U.S. Forest Service backcountry ranger. He graduated from paramedic school in early 2005 and later that year was hired as a firefighter/paramedic with Lake Valley Fire Protection District. Mitch was among the first brave firefighters on scene to battle the 2007 Angora wildfire, recalling his experience driving through a wall of flames along Tahoe Mountain Road en route to save homes in the neighborhood below Angora Ridge.