A week after he fell deep into a crevasse, rescue crews recovered the body of a former Oak Bay municipal staffer late Tuesday afternoon in Yoho National Park.
Mark Taylor, Abbotsford’s general manager of parks at the time of his death, had been missing since the evening of March 12 when he fell down the crevasse in the Wapta Icefield north of Lake Louise, Alta.
“Rescuers had to shovel through several metres of snow inside the crevasse to recover his body,” Parks Canada spokesman Omar McDadi said in an email late Tuesday. “The rescue team and personnel are off the mountain and the body has been transferred to B.C. authorities.”
Taylor was the assistant superintendent of Oak Bay Parks and Recreation in the 1990s before moving to the Lower Mainland.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare,” said former Oak Bay mayor Chris Causton, who knew Taylor well and has known of his plight for several days.
He called Taylor “a wonderful guy, very warm, friendly, great at customer service and really a very dedicated outdoors guy.”
He was an innovator at indoor recreation, and was “extremely careful” in outside pursuits, Causton said. “He lived for these outdoor experiences — it’s a real tragedy.”
The search for Taylor, involving four highly experienced mountain guides, had been called off earlier because of heavy snow and dangerous conditions. But Tuesday morning, the weather cleared up and a helicopter with a rescue crew was sent to the area.
The incident occurred on the Wapta Icefield, just across the B.C. border from Lake Louise, while Taylor was touring with two other skiers.
Taylor’s companions, a woman in her 30s who Causton said was Taylor’s daughter, and a man in his 60s, were unharmed. They took shelter in a snow cave for two days before they were rescued. McDadi said they had lost communication with Taylor and there was no cellphone coverage in the crevasse.
McDadi said it appeared the trio were well prepared for their trip and were experienced backcountry skiers.
When rescuers were first at the site on Friday to airlift out Taylor’s companions, one of the rescuers looked down the crevasse but could not see or make contact with Taylor.
Earlier, a beacon Taylor had been carrying had transmitted a weak signal from 35 metres below the glacier’s surface. There was no way to know if the beacon was still with the missing man at the time.
With Tiffany Crawford and Brian Morton, Vancouver Sun
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