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Aussie man dies in fall on Squamish mountain

RCMP confirms death of 29-year-old Michael Taylor, who fell while climbing Sky Pilot Mountain
FATAL FALL A 29-year-old Australian man fell to his death Saturday, Sept. 13, while climbing Sky Pilot Mountain, pictured, in Squamish. It's the second death on the mountain this summer. Photo by Josef Hanus / Shutterstock

The BC Coroners Service has identified the man who slid to his death on Saturday, Sept. 13, while climbing Sky Pilot Mountain in Squamish.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., police received witness reports of an injured man on Stadium Glacier, which is located on Sky Pilot.

An Australian native living in Victoria, the deceases is 29-year-old Michael Taylor, who was travelling with a male friend with the aim of reaching the 2,025-metre peak.

Squamish Search and Rescue manager Katy Chambers said the man slid roughly 300 metres down the glacier through rocky terrain and suffered "massive trauma." A doctor on scene administered CPR until rescue crews arrived approximately 45 minutes later, Chambers said. The climber was deceased by the time emergency personnel got to the scene.

Taylor was not wearing a helmet and Chambers believes the two friends were using crampons for the first time on Saturday.

"They were active individuals but I wouldn’t call them experienced mountaineers or anything," she said.

The location where Taylor was climbing is a three-hour hike from the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola, and he accessed the area through a forest service road that goes up the backside of the mountain. The road was inaccessible by vehicle until upgrades were made in advance of the opening of the gondola in May, Chambers said.

The incident marks the second fatal fall this summer on Sky Pilot Mountain. In July, Vancouver man Owen Philip James Hosford fell to his death after entering an advanced climbing area via the Sea to Sky Gondola, raising concerns among search and rescue personnel in the corridor over a recent increase in calls as a result of easier access to the area through the new lift.

"It is creating easier access for most people, and we do see a lot more people up there that are not as prepared as they should be," Chambers explained. "The terrain starts off on old logging roads and gets challenging quite quickly … so it’s something that our team is working towards to educate visitors and working with the Sea to Sky Gondola to improve the signage in the area."

Squamish Search and Rescue was the busiest search and rescue organization in the province last year, and is pacing above the 10-year average so far in 2014, although not yet as busy as the record-breaking 2013.

Check back with Pique on Thursday for further details on this story.