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Date: 2004-02-01
Submitted By: WWAN
Place: Cayoosh Mountain, northeast of Pemberton
State: BC
Country: CANADA
Fatalities: 1
Summary: 1 skier caught, carried, and killed

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Whistlerite perishes in avalanche

A Whistlerite known by many for his infectious enthusiasm died during a backcountry ski trip northeast of Pemberton Sunday when the snow underneath him gave way and sent him careening down a 400-foot cliff.

The life of Chris Romeskie, known to his friends as ?Beeker,? will be celebrated by friends and family on Friday at 7 p.m. at Dusty?s in Creekside. Friend Andie Osborne said the memorial will include music, slides and tributes from Romeskie?s family and friends.

?He did everything big,? said Osborne, who along with Romeskie?s fianc?e, Nicole McKay, accompanied Romeskie on the ill-fated ski trip to Cayoosh Mountain.

?He was 6-(feet)-8 with ski boots on,? Osborne said. ?He was the one who broke trail, he was the one who got us up in the morning. He was the one who wouldn?t let us have a rest day the next day.?

Said another friend, Greg Eymundson, ?Beeker was one of the highest energy, most enthusiastic people that I knew. Whether I was climbing a glacier with him or racing with him at the Toonies (bike races), he was always on top of his game ? with a smile.

?He never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything. Beeker has definitely been a huge positive influence and inspiration to me.?

According to Pemberton RCMP Cst. Paul Vadik, the three skiers were traversing a steep alpine ridge on the north side of Cayoosh Mountain when the snow underneath Romeskie gave way ?triggering an a valanche, and (he) fell off a 400-foot cliff along with a significant amount of snow.?

Police said Osborne and McKay reached Romeskie and performed cardio-pulmonary rescuscitation (CPR) but were unable to revive him.

Osborne declined to describe the incident, other than to say the RCMP statement ?is accurate and thorough to the level of detail I want to get into.

?It?s been such a traumatic few days,? she added. ?I spent a couple hours at the RCMP last night and I can?t really go through it all again.?

Osborne said the three were all experienced backcountry skiers who had visited the Cayoosh Mountain area many times. ?We were all familiar with the area,? she said.

Romeskie, in fact, was in the middle of training to become certified as an Association of Canadian Mountain Guides (ACMG) ski guide when he died, Osborne said.

Romeskie, 29, moved from the Ottawa Valley in Ontario to Whistler in 1993, working and volunteering on the Blackcomb Ski Patrol for ?three or four years,? just for the chance to ski and enjoy the outdoors here, she said.

?He did carpentry in the summer and worked hard to save up for a good ski season, tuned skis at night, put in his days with vollie patrols to have a pass and ski for free ?to frolic in our mountains,? Osborne said.

Romeskie also climbed in Squamish in the summers, and was an avid mountain biker. He regul arly participated in Whistler?s Toonie bike races.

Last fall, Romeskie was named ?Strongest Samurai? at the Samurai of Singletrack cross-country endurance mountain biking event, finishing ninth overall despite using a 40-plus-pound downhill bike.

?I met him through my boyfriend five years ago at the tuning shop and have enjoyed many sunny ski days with Beeker, and some white-out ones, too,? said Osborne, who described him as having a ?big heart? and ?infectious enthusiasm.?

She said ?Beeker? enjoyed visits to France, where his mother, Beatrice, came from, and last summer had a memorable fishing trip to Alaska with his father, Julian. He is also survived by two brothers and a sister.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund is being set up to pay for the memorial and for his fianc?e, McKay, Osborne said.

She said friends and family offered special thanks to those from Whistler and Blackcomb Ski Patrol, Blackcomb Helicopters, Ministry of Transportation, RCMP and the Coroner?s service, who help ed out in the aftermath of Sunday?s tragedy.