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Free spirit died in his 'happy place'

North Battleford, Whistler to remember two who lost lives in New Year's avalanches



To television networks covering his death, Steve Clark was a simple construction worker. But for housemate Alison Kemp, he was “Steve-O,” an expert skier who died in his “happy place.”

Clark, 37, was killed in a class 2 avalanche in Blackcomb’s Ruby Bowl on New Year’s Eve. A Whistler resident, he leaves behind two parents, a brother and a nephew to whom he’d just become an uncle seven months ago.

Kemp, also a Whistler resident, shared a house with him in Alpine Meadows for three years. In just under a decade of friendship, she came to know him as an exciting personality who loved the mountains like he valued his life. She would have trusted him with her life on the slopes.

“He needed to be up there like we needed to breathe,” she said in an interview. “He was good at it, he was experienced, it put him in his happy place.”

Clark grew up in West Vancouver and graduated from West Vancouver Secondary School in 1989. From there he went on to study business at Capilano College and the University of Western Ontario. He also spent time traveling all around Europe and to Australia in his younger days.

Family friend Patricia Leslie said he moved to Whistler sometime in the late ’90s — a place where his family had a ski cabin since the early 1970s. He learned to ski when he was four years old and “grew up skiing Whistler and Blackcomb,” she said.

No run in Whistler did it for him like Spanky’s Ladder — the entrance to some of Blackcomb’s most difficult runs such as the Garnet, Rainbow and Ruby Bowls.

“He was a very free spirit,” Kemp said. “He was also known to say ‘I’m going for a walk’ and he’d go up and up and he’d just go up and he’d come back down when he was ready.

“That day wasn’t one of those days, he didn’t say he was going for a walk and he didn’t come back.”

On New Year’s Eve, Clark had gone up with some friends and done several laps with them in Ruby Bowl — an area that had been marked beyond boundary due to dangerous snow conditions. The avalanche hazard was high and there was minimal avalanche control in the area.

As Kemp tells it, Clark’s friends were readying to go and he wanted just one more run in the bowl. People last saw him on the Blackcomb Rescue Road at about 2 p.m.

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