Body of man who went missing during hike has been found

The body of a 65-year-old mountaineer who went missing in July after setting off on a solo trip in the mountains near Gold River has been found.

Laurence Philippsen’s body was found about a week ago on the south side of Mount Laing, said friend Lindsay Elms. He appeared to have fallen and likely died instantly, Elms said.

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“There is comfort, especially for the family, knowing what happened,” Elms said.

Philippsen, of Black Creek, left home on June 29, leaving his family a detailed plan of his three-day, 40-kilometre climb in a range in Strathcona Provincial Park that includes Mount Laing, Mount Filberg, Mount Cobb and Mount Haig-Brown. A 100-person search-and-rescue mission started on July 3 after Philippsen failed to return home the night before. The official search was called off after several days with no sign of Philippsen.

Elms said local mountaineers continued to hike in the area in the hope of finding Philippsen, which is what happened last week.

Another mountaineer went into the mountains for a day trip and stumbled upon Philippsen’s body.

Elms said he knew right away that something serious had happened when he heard his friend never sent a message to his family on the first day of his trip as he had promised.

Philippsen was an experienced hiker who was safe and meticulous, Elms said. He had a natural ability to pick a route through tricky terrain and had the experience, skills and judgement to move safely in the mountains. He always carried a signalling device to contact his family or call for help if needed.

Elms said Philippsen wore his GPS device on his chest so he could reach the SOS button easily in an accident.

“He was a safe climber. If it looked too sketchy, he wouldn’t do it,” said Elms, who did about 30 to 40 climbs with Philippsen.

Philippsen lived on the Island his entire life and retired after a career in the logging industry, which, Elms said, gave him knowledge of logging roads and the geography of the Island. He loved being in the mountains, using his skills and introducing others to his passion, Elms said.

“As mountaineers, we know only too well that there is this side to mountaineering,” Elms said. “There is passion, but also pain. I will remember Laurence for many things, but it was his love of adventure and his willingness to explore new places that brought us together in the mountains.”

Philippsen leaves his wife, two children and two grandchildren.

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