In 2018, David Xiao hiked the 4,300 km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. (Submitted)

Albertan climber with ‘heart as big as his smile’ plummets to his death in Glacier National Park

David Xiao died climbing Mt. Sir Donald near Rogers Pass

Two days before his 26th birthday, climber David Xiao fell to his death on Mt. Sir Donald in Glacier National Park.

On Aug. 16, at approximately 8 a.m., Parks Canada said it received a report of an injured climber on the mountain’s northwest ridge.

Shelley Bird, Parks Canada spokesperson, said a helicopter search located Xiao’s body, which likely fell 250 metres. It’s the first reported major incident this year in Glacier National Park.

READ MORE: Vancouver man dies in climbing fall in Glacier National Park

Sir Donald is a classic alpine route. Although exposed, it’s commonly climbed unroped. Friends say it looked like Xiao grabbed a large loose boulder, causing him to lose balance and fall.

Xiao was born and raised in China, having moved to Canada several years ago.

According to a written tribute by his friend Taylor Adolphe, Xiao not only yearned for adventure but lived to share those adventures with others.

“It wasn’t just the climb, but the people he did it with that mattered,” said Adolphe.

It was his smile and welcoming demeanor that drew people in.

“He lit up the room,” she said.

“He had a heart as big as his smile.”

Xiao worked as an actuary and when he wasn’t playing in the mountains, Adolphe said he was diligently reading online resources, asking experts and practicing climbing rescue systems, both in the kitchen and a nearby city park.

While Sir Donald is not an easy mountain and not one to be underestimated, Adolphe said Xiao had all the tools to accomplish it.

“Mountains are so beautiful yet so unforgiving, a battle that unfortunately many alpinists and climbers are all too familiar with,” she said.

David Xiao in the Bugaboos a week prior to his death. (Submitted)

Although he lived in Calgary, Xiao had just bought a house in Canmore.

His first trip in the mountains was in Grade 10 on a popular hike called Nihahi Ridge in Alberta.

“Even though I thought I was going to either die of exhaustion or exposure the whole time, I was in love,” wrote Xiao on his blog Trailing Adventures.

Since then, Xiao got into long-distance hiking, backcountry skiing and climbing.

On his blog, Xiao wrote adventure is about discovering the unknown, such as the endless slippery scree slope that journeys to incredible views, the freezing rain that ends in a field of flowers and the shivering cold nights that lead to incredible sunrises.

“Those things keep us adventuring through the nightmares because we have experienced the beauty that comes with tribulation and the unknown,” he wrote.

David Xiao on the summit of Ha Ling near Canmore earlier this year. (Submitted)

Adolphe said Xiao wanted his new Canmore home to become a connecting point for people, to host friends and plan adventures.

Xiao had previously hiked the 4,300 km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. There, he earned the trail name Squish, because he accidentally stepped on a toad.

A week prior to his death, Xiao climbed the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire, one of Canada’s most iconic alpine climbs. Adolphe said it was his proudest alpine achievement.

“David may have chosen a trail less traveled in life, but one he fully embraced and would not have had any other way,” said Adolphe.

She said friends and family find solace knowing he left the world doing what he was most passionate about.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Death

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

Public invited to help cram police cruiser with food donations

The Cram the Cruiser event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Library set to resume programs virtually in October

The 100 Mile House Branch will restart its virtual programming this month.

100 Mile House RCMP seeking the public’s assistance to identify a dangerous driver

The male suspect was last seen fleeing north on Highway 97 in a white Acura 2

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read