The victims of a fatal avalanche near Pemberton, B.C. late last month are being remembered as passionate backcountry adventurers.
Friends and family have identified the victims as Graham Haywood and Nick Bowker, who were snow biking in the area of Goat Peak.
Snow biking is a sport that uses dirt bikes with a snowmobile conversion to explore the backcountry.
“He was a very energetic, passionate person that didn’t really do anything in half steps. Everything he’s ever pursued in life he was kind of leading the charge at,” Graham Camm, an 18-year friend of Haywood’s, told Global News.
“The man just had a passion for life that was unrivaled.”
The pair were reported missing Monday evening, but search and rescue crews were unable to reach them until the following morning, when they were found among an avalanche debris field.
Camm said he and Haywood had met Bowker through an online snow biking forum, and immediately hit it off based on their shared enthusiasm.
“He was one of the only guys that had the same passion as just a few of us have for this new sport,” he said.
Search and rescue teams and Avalanche Canada have issued warnings about dangerous conditions in the backcountry, amid fresh snow and stormy weather.
The Sea to Sky, South Coast and South Coast Inland regions remained at a high danger rating at most elevations on Sunday.
“We’re in a natural avalanche cycle here. We’re recommending people avoid avalanche terrain,” Avalanche Canada forecasting program supervisor Ilya Storm told Global News.
“If you don’t have the training to recognize avalanche terrain, don’t go in the mountains. If you do go into the mountains without training, make sure you avoid avalanche terrain by staying on very low-angle slopes with nothing above you.”
Bowker’s family told Global News they are working on a project to help snow bikers with little avalanche experience get formal training.
They are also soliciting donations for Pemberton and Chilliwack Search and Rescue.
Despite the tragedy, Camm has no regrets about his love of the sport.
“People have to follow their hearts and their passions and live their lives and pursue their dreams,” he said.
“I don’t hold it against anyone that does that. That’s what Haywood and Nick were doing. That’s where their heart was.”
But he said his friend’s passion will be palpably missing from the slopes.
“He was always the first guy in the parking lot when we went snow biking, and the last guy to leave at the end of the day. His energy just carried everyone through the day.”
With files from Julia Foy