Whistler mountaineer Jim Haberl, one of the first two Canadians to climb K2, the world’s second highest peak, died in an avalanche in Alaska April 29.
Haberl, 41, was on a backcountry skiing trip with Whistlerites Keith Reid and Graeme Taylor in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. They were climbing an unnamed peak when they stopped for a break. Haberl apparently climbed a few metres up slope to get a better view when snow above him began to slide.
A spokesman for the Alaska state troopers said the three were not in a dangerous situation, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Reid and Taylor managed to swim out of the metre-deep, slow-moving slab. The two found Haberl’s body after climbing down the mountain.
Haberl worked as a guide for Whistler Heli-skiing and had written two books. His first book was K2: Dreams and Reality, which he self-published in 1994. It is the story of Haberl and his close friend Dan Culver and their efforts to summit on Pakistan’s K2 in 1993. They became the first Canadians to reach the peak, but Culver died during the descent.
In 1997 Raincoast Books published Risking Adventure, Haberl’s second book, a collection of five stories from climbs and expeditions around the world, including the K2 expedition.
"The theme through all the stories is one of following the passion of your heart, trusting that — going with the feel," Haberl said.
Risking Adventure grew out of K2: Dreams and Realities and was the only Canadian entry selected as a finalist in the Mountain Literature category at the 1997 Banff Mountain Book Festival.
"The first book had a lot of different motivations, it was a personal journey," Haberl said two years ago.
K2: Dreams and Reality was re-released last month.
Haberl was well known throughout the climbing and mountaineering community. He was the West Coast chairman of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.