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Whistler woman killed in fall on ice cap

Memorial planned for Klara Knapek on Saturday



Klara Knapek’s last day was also the best day of her life.

The 33-year-old Whistler women went wakeboarding for the first time, then was picked up by a float plane and dropped off at her house and as soon as she had packed a bag she was whisked off in her first helicopter ride to join friends on the Pemberton Ice Cap, where a snowmobile film shoot was underway.

The yoga instructor then spent the rest of Friday, May 16 celebrating with friends until it was time to gather and watch the sunrise come up over the majestic ice cap landscape Saturday morning.

While Knapek waited she and several others, including boyfriend Jason Smith, slid around on their nylon sleeping bags.

Friend Dana Friesen believes Knapek was totally unaware that the slope the group was sitting on ended in a cliff with a 30-metre drop off to a boulder field below.

“She was having an amazing time and had no idea that this was happening,” she said of Knapek’s slide toward death.

“(Knapek) is quoted as saying, ‘this is the best day of my life,’ multiple times. So at least it makes it easier for a lot of us that she left super stoked on life.”

Another women on the sleeping bad with Knapek managed to get off before it went over the cliff while friends, including Smith, watched the tragedy unfold.

Snowmobilers responded immediately to Knapek and performed CPR but she could not be resuscitated.

Friends and family are planning a memorial at the Westin Resort in Whistler this Saturday at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers guests may donate to Vancouver-based Yoga Outreach (, a charity that promotes healing through volunteer Yoga teachers to people in health care settings (physical and mental), shelters, treatment facilities and correctional institutions who would not otherwise have access to Yoga.

A fund is also being set up to place a memorial plaque at the sight of her death.

“She was a strong inspiration women,” said Friesen adding that Knapek, who had lived in Whistler for about seven years, was dedicated to living in the moment.

“She was extremely powerful and dedicated to her yoga… I totally believe she is onto the next journey…”

Said friend and La Bocca Restaurant boss Lucie Lefrancois: “She was in love with life.

“She was super dynamic… she lived her life like crazy.”

Mike Wilson, general manager of the Garibaldi Lift Company bar where Knapek also worked said many in town were touched by Knapek.

“She knows a lot of people in town and she was an awesome woman with a lot of spirit,” he said.

“She impacted a lot of people’s lives, for sure. She touched a lot of lives through her yoga and working in the restaurants. Her loss is being felt all over town.

“We want to send our condolences to her family and her boyfriend and we are trying to do whatever we can to help them get through this.”

Calls to Whistler Helisledders, the Pemberton Ice Cap base camp company, were not returned by deadline.

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