By SAM RIGNEY and MATTHEW KELLY
HE was charismatic and witty, an adventurer and a larrikin.
Friends and family are mourning the loss of Wangi Wangi man Michael Taylor who died after falling more than 300 metres while climbing a glacier on Canada’s Sky Pilot Mountain on Saturday.
Mr Taylor, 29, known to his mates as ‘‘Tails’’, went to Merewether High School and studied engineering at the University of Newcastle before embracing the great outdoors and moving to Canada 18 months ago.
He had lined up a job, met a girl and was enjoying trekking and mountain bike riding in picturesque British Columbia.
But just after 11am on Saturday, when Mr Taylor and his friend Christian Likely were approaching the most dangerous part of their climb on Stadium Glacier, in the wilderness about 67kilometres north of Vancouver, tragedy struck.
‘‘They were on the steepest part right near the head wall where the glacier steepens a little bit,’’ Squamish Search and Rescue manager Katy Chamber said.
‘‘They weren’t climbing vertical ice, but this time of year, there’s no snow left on the glacier, so the ice is quite slippery.’’
Suddenly, Mr Taylor fell, smashing against ice and rocks.
It is believed he was wearing crampons, spiked devices that climbers attach to their feet to allow them to dig into ice or snow, but it may have been the first time Mr Taylor had used them.
‘‘With the crampons, if you don’t dig them in properly, it is quite easy to slip on the side of them,’’ Ms Chambers said.
Another climbing party saw Mr Taylor fall and triggered their emergency locater beacon, alerting authorities. A doctor, who was in the area, administered CPR, but was unable to save Mr Taylor.
A family spokesman told the Newcastle Herald yesterday that Mr Taylor’s mother was heading to Canada.
Mr Taylor left his Wangi Wangi home to move into Darby Street, Cooks Hill, with some friends while he was at university. He bought a townhouse in North Lambton a few years ago and had been living there up until he left for Canada.
‘‘I just remember Mike being the most outrageous person you would meet, he would do the most bizarre things, but he couldn’t offend anyone,’’ a good mate, Chris English, said.
‘‘Everyone just loved him, he had a way of broaching any topic, he was really genuine and likeable.
‘‘He was a really smart guy, very intelligent, but he had no intention of overshadowing anyone, he was so sweet, he wouldn’t hurt anyone.’’
Others remembered Mr Taylor as an avid mountain biker, talented musician and ‘‘the funniest guy you’ve ever met’’.
Friends in Newcastle and overseas have paid tribute to Mr Taylor, with many posting memories and stories to the Friends of Mike Taylor Facebook page.
‘‘Mike, you were a true friend in every sense of the word,’’ Mitchell Kosklin wrote.
‘‘An hour hasn’t passed without being reminded of something you have said or done over the years to put a smile on my face.
‘‘Words can’t describe how sorely you will be missed, you will forever be in my heart.’’
It was just after 11am on Saturday and Michael Taylor and his friend Christian Likely were approaching the most dangerous part of their climb towards Canada’s picturesque Sky Pilot Mountain.
Taylor, the 29-year-old from Wangi Wangi, and Likely were on Stadium Glacier in the wilderness about 67 kilometres north of Vancouver.
The glacier would lead them to Sky Pilot Mountain.
‘‘They were on the steepest part right near the head wall where the glacier steepens a little bit,’’ Squamish Search and Rescue manager Katy Chambers told AAP.
‘‘They weren’t climbing vertical ice, but this time of the year there’s no snow left on the glacier so the ice is quite slippery.’’
Suddenly, Taylor fell.The Australian was wearing crampons, spiked devices climbers attach to their feet to allow them to dig into ice or snow.But, it was believed to be the first time Taylor had climbed with crampons. He also wasn’t wearing a helmet.
‘‘With the crampons, if you don’t dig them in properly it is quite easy to slip on the side of them,’’ Chambers said.
As Likely watched in horror, Taylor slid for about 300m, his body smashing against the ice and jagged rocks.
Another climbing party saw Taylor and triggered their emergency locator beacon, alerting local authorities, including Chambers’ search and rescue team.
A doctor who was in the area administered CPR, but could not save the young Australian.
‘‘When we arrived on the scene he was pronounced deceased by the doctor,’’ Chambers said.‘‘
Christian was very distraught.
‘‘We had victim services from the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) meet him when he flew out on the helicopter.’’
Stadium Glacier is what is known as a pocket glacier.
It doesn’t have large crevices, but with it being summer the surface was a dangerous mix of ice and rocks.
While Taylor and Likely were physically fit, Chambers said she believed ‘‘they were inexperienced with the tools and equipment they were using’’.
The British Columbia Coroner is investigating what is now the second death in the area since the opening of the Sea to the Sky Gondola, which takes visitors up into the mountains.
Authorities said this has led to non-experienced hikers and climbers getting access to difficult terrain.
‘‘We’ll do an investigation of these two and see if there’s any recommendations to possibly prevent future deaths,’’ said Barb McLintock, of the British Columbia Coroner’s Office.
In July Vancouver man Owen Hosford fell to his death after entering an advanced climbing area via the Sea to Sky Gondola.