A well-known local pro skier has died after falling down a crevasse while skiing in the Pemberton backcountry on Monday, April 15, confirmed Pemberton District Search and Rescue (PSAR).
Rescue crews had just finished attending a nearby call when they received word that a backcountry skier had fallen roughly 30 metres down a crevasse near Rhododendron Mountain and was unresponsive. A medical and extraction team attended the scene but, unfortunately, the 38-year-old man had succumbed to his injuries.
While officials have not released the man's name, friends later confirmed it was local professional freeskier Dave Treadway.
David MacKenzie, head of PSAR, said the "very experienced skier" was travelling with a group that happened to run into challenging terrain in warming conditions.
"It was just an unfortunate incident going through unknown terrain," he noted in a follow-up interview. "There are crevasses all over the backcountry and in the glacial area. Various ones may have an ice bridge over them or something, and some of them can be sight unseen."
MacKenzie called the effort to recover the skier "a very technical operation" that was backed by several members of Whistler Search and Rescue. In all, 14 members from both Pemberton and Whistler crews attended.
Local freeskiing icon Mike Douglas, who has known the Treadway family going on 15 years, believes climate change may have contributed to the conditions.
"You don't want to scapegoat this to climate change, but the glaciers are in bad shape, and in a low snow year like this, we've never had sketchy bridging like this in my 30 years here," he noted. "There is a different level of risk in glaciated terrain that we just never had to experience before."
The Treadway family has a long history in local ski circles; brothers Dan and Darryl also skied professionally at various points in their career. Douglas said Dave had shied away from taking major risks in recent years. Since Dave's death, he has struggled to wrap his head around what he called a freak accident "that could have happened to anybody."
"It's one thing when you lose someone who is doing really risky, crazy stuff," Douglas said. "Dave was just super unlucky."
Douglas described his friend as a consummate family man who was "one of the nicest, most genuine guys you could meet." Treadway leaves behind his pregnant wife, Tessa, and a two-year-old and six-year-old son. Treadway and his wife had recently committed to buying a house in Golden.
"For me, being a family man myself, that's the hardest thing — knowing that he' not there for them anymore," Douglas said.
A GoFundMe has been set up to support Treadway’s family. At press time, more than $90,000 had been raised in less than 24 hours. Donate at gofundme.com/support-for-the-treadway-family.
Visit adventuresmart.ca for safety tips before heading out into the backcountry.