Avalanche claims the life of Duncan MacKenzie

Duncan MacKenzie age 30 of Whistler / Pemberton was the victim of an avalanche in the Casper Creek area.

Duncan MacKenzie of D-Mac Trails Inc.

Duncan MacKenzie of D-Mac Trails Inc.

On Friday, December 30, 2011 Sgt. Peter Thiessen, Senior Media Relations Officer  of the  Lower Mainland District Regional Police Service issued a news release confirming that Duncan MacKenzie age 30 of Whistler / Pemberton was the victim of an avalanche in the Casper Creek area, north of Pemberton.

Both experienced and well equipped for their trip, MacKenzie and three friends set out in the back country on December 29 for an afternoon of  skiing.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., the RCMP received a report of an injured skier as a result of being caught up in an avalanche which happened around 3:00 p.m., that afternoon.

MacKenzie had been swept away in the avalanche traveling an estimated 1800 metres down the mountain.

When his friends found him he was severely injured and unconscious. One friend remained administering CPR while the other two set out to get help.

The Whistler/Pemberton Search and Rescue Team were dispatched immediately, attempting to retrieve MacKenzie via helicopter. The CFB Comox 442 Squadron was sent out as well, but due to approaching darkness and dangerous weather conditions their attempts were unsuccessful.

Ground Search and Rescue was then dispatched and upon arrival found that Duncan MacKenzie had succumbed to his injuries.

“The area where this occurred had a high avalanche warning in effect and we urge even the most experienced back country enthusiasts to stay out of these types of areas when such warnings are in place.  It is not worth your life,” said Sgt. Peter Thiessen.

At 12:30 p.m., on December 30, Search and Rescue crews were able to remove the body of Duncan MacKenzie from the scene.

Mackenzie was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed mountain biking and skiing in his down time.

He touched the lives of many as a technical safety skills bike coach. MacKenzie traveled around North America sharing his riding skills and holding clinics as part of the “Trek Dirt Series.” —Trek are one of the top names in the mountain bike world.

Since the year 2000, during the winter, he shared his talent and love for skiing working Ski Patrol for Whistler Blackcomb.

On top of this already busy schedule, MacKenzie  built both his reputation and his business, D-Mac Trails Inc., by becoming a highly respected trail builder throughout B.C.

Residents of Princeton did not go untouched by this young man’s talent nor his generosity. Duncan MacKenzie was instrumental in the design and construction of the 5 km Rail Trail on the China Ridge Trail network. The Rail Trail joins with the historic Kettle Valley Rail Trail and ends at White Sands Beach along the Tulameen River.

He then returned to Princeton to assist with the GamesTown project; the Princeton Bike Park, bringing with him the donation of wood from the 2010 Winter Olympics via Miller Capilano Maintenance Corporation.

To the family and friends of Duncan MacKenzie, our condolences.

To all outdoor enthusiasts: please, heed the warnings… Mother Nature is not choosey, she will even take the best of the best.