Crazy Creek Chairs founder and co-owner of Montana’s Red Lodge Snowboard camp Robert “Rob” Dixon Hart passed away last Friday in a skiing accident on Red Lodge Mountain.
Robert “Rob” Dixon Hart, 51, of Red Lodge, Montana, died February 20 in a skiing accident on Red Lodge Mountain. He was born April 6, 1957 in Huntington, Long Island, New York, the son of Augustin S. and Margaret Stuart Hart.
In 1960, he moved with his family to Lake Forest, Illinois. His elementary education was begun in Lake Forest, and completed at the North Country School in Lake Placid, New York. His high school years were spent at Kent’s Hill School in Maine, and he later attended Bennington College, Vermont, and Montana State University.
Rob then decided to let the world become his teacher and became chief executive of the World Pro Fun Tour. The tour’s motto was “You can work all of your life to go to the beach, or you can just go to the beach!” The Tour gave him the perfect opportunity to develop his climbing skills, a passion first kindled at his family’s ranch in the mountains of Wyoming and during family vacations in Switzerland.
His first major climb was as a member of Fred Beckey’s 1982 Ru-Dshe-Konka expedition in the Chinese Himalayas. Later expeditions took him to almost every continent and included National Geographic’s exploration and climb through Patagonia’s Cordillera Sarmiento region and Norman Vaughn’s return expedition to Antarctica. Rob later guided two expeditions of his own in Antarctica, and several climbs of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. Rob climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with his brother Doug, nephew Austin Hart and Jim Kadous of Red Lodge in 2004 and most recently led an expedition to climb Mount Tupungato in Chile with his wife Trenay, brother Doug, nephews Austin Hart and Brandon Goldstein and several friends.
Rob founded Crazy Creek Products with his first wife Louise “Weezie” Chandler in Red Lodge, Montana in 1988. Their first and signature design was the now world-famous Crazy Creek Chair, whose origins hark back to their experiences as Outward Bound instructors in Colorado; after a long day in the field they wanted a lightweight and portable chair to support the back and keep the butt warm and dry. Over the years Crazy Creek Products has had a significant impact on the outdoor industry, and the original Crazy Creek Chair is still produced today. The company’s product lines have expanded to several styles of chairs designed for a multitude of uses, reflecting Rob’s desire to create comfort in the wilderness or at home.
Meanwhile Rob continued to share his love of the mountains with others. He founded two expedition companies (Burnt Mountain Ski Inc., and Beartooth Mountain Guides), and guided clients and friends in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana and the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming. Rob was also part owner of the Red Lodge International Summer Ski and Snowboard Camp, on the Beartooth Highway just outside Red Lodge.
Rob loved to hunt and fly fish. He eagerly anticipated the arrival of fall every year, and the opportunity to enjoy upland bird, waterfowl and big game hunting with his friends and family. Thanksgiving brought amiable clay pigeon shooting competitions. In the summers, Rob spent time on the Clark’s Fork River and on the high mountain lakes of the Beartooths pursuing trout for breakfast. Many will remember the beautiful loops he threw.
Golf was another sport at which Rob excelled. Twice he traveled with his father and brothers to Great Britain to play at some of the world’s most distinguished courses.
Rob was also a horseman and herded cattle at his family’s ranch, cowboyed at the ORO Ranch in Arizona, and often competed at the Ski-Joring Finals in Red Lodge.
Wherever Rob traveled, his engaging personality drew people to him. Those people became friends, and they often came to Montana and enriched the lives of all who knew Rob, like ever-widening ripples on a pond. But it was in his own backyard that he met the love of his life; Trenay Allen. When they met she was a Physician’s Assistant in Billings and building a house in Red Lodge. She knew many of the people that Rob knew. They were compadres on all levels. Rob and Trenay were married at Edgar, Montana in September of 2006. Their time together as partners was all too short.
Robert is survived by his wife, Trenay Hart, of Red Lodge and Billings; his daughter Abra Gasser and granddaughter Ashby, of Phoenix, Arizona; his mother, Margaret S. Hart of Lake Forest, Illinois; two brothers, Augustin S. (Becky) Hart III of Oquawka, Illinois and Douglas S. (Harriet Corbett) Hart of Powell, Wyoming; two sisters, Kathryn (Robert) Lansing of Lake Forest, Illinois and Heather Hart (Walter Goldstein) of Bozeman, Montana. He is also survived by his in-laws Chuck and Candace Allen of Mount Vernon, Iowa, by three aunts, three uncles, three nieces and seven nephews, and his two hunting Labs, Chug and Khumbu.
A celebration of his life will be held at the Spring Creek Equine Facility at the Red Lodge Vet Clinic (Beug Arena) at 3 PM on Friday, February 27th, 2009.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Rob’s memory can be made to the “Greg Lethart Memorial Fund” c/o Red Lodge Ski Patrol, PO Box 750, Red Lodge, MT 59068.