Pemberton skier killed in backcountry accident on Cayoosh Mountain
Even by Whistler and Pemberton standards, Chris Michael Romeskie - better known to his friends as Beeker - was an animal when it came to taking on the great outdoors. He was an avid mountain biker, a rock climber, an ice climber, and an excellent skier with a huge circle of similarly active friends.
Beeker, 29, was killed in a backcountry ski touring accident on Sunday, Feb. 1, on Cayoosh Mountain. According to reports, he was traversing a steep alpine ridge at approximately 7,900 feet when the snow broke away beneath him and carried him over a 400-goot cliff.
The other two members of his party, Beeker's fiancé Nicole McKay and friend Andie Osborne, managed to avoid being carried away by the slide. They skied down to where Beeker was buried in the snow, and attempted CPR for about 45 minutes. They skied out and contacted the authorities.
A coroner's report on the accident is expected in the next few weeks.
"At this point in time, what we're doing is talking to the other two members of the party, and I'm getting statements, but it's so close and so traumatic that we're not rushing it. What we do is let the emotions calm down so we can then start reconstructing things," said community coroner Brian Pothier.
The coroner, RCMP, members of the Pemberton Search and Rescue team, members of Whistler-Blakcomb Ski Patrol, Blackcomb Helicopters, and a representative from the Ministry of Transportation worked together to extract Beeker on Monday, an operation which took four hours to complete. Pothier thanked everybody who helped with the extraction.
The group took all reasonable precautions, digging a snow pit and heading into the backcountry fully equipped.
"It was one of the most beautiful days of the year - blue skies, perfect snow, no wind," remembers Osborne.
Beeker was very experienced in the backcountry, and was working towards his Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Certification in skiing as well as rock climbing.
"I knew him as a skier and a climber, but he had this whole other life as a mountain biker as well," said Osborne.
"In the past few years he really focused on guiding. I think he genuinely loved to share his passion for the outdoors. He was strong enough and knowledgeable enough to help others get to some truly beautiful places."
Beeker moved to Whistler in 1993. He is from the Ottawa area originally, and spent several years growing up in France, where he had dual citizenship through his mother. He still went to France to ski every time he had the chance.