Extreme skier killed near Haines Summit after accident

A Whistler, B.C. skier known for his sense of adventure and positive outlook on life died last week near the Haines Summit after he fell off a cliff.

A Whistler, B.C. skier known for his sense of adventure and positive outlook on life died last week near the Haines Summit after he fell off a cliff.

Maxim Arsenault, 36, was working with a film crew shooting an extreme ski video when he fell approximately 30 feet and was buried by an avalanche he likely triggered, according to Philippe Brient, president of Atlin Search and Rescue.

Arsenault’s friends told Brient they did their best to find him and dig him out, but it was too late.

Toby Salin was one of Arsenault’s best friends. Salin set up a Facebook page in his friend’s honour and tributes have been flowing in constantly, he said.

“Thanks for loving skiing and mountains as much as you did. You inspire a lot of people to love the ski life a little more,” wrote Kate Covello.

Salin and Arsenault met on the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb, where Arsenault was a “permanent fixture,” Salin said.

“He was there in the dark before the lifts opened and he didn’t come down until the lifts were closed,” he said.

“Even then, he’d still be hiking up the hill after that and ski patrol would be yelling at him to get off the mountain.

“He was the most passionate skier I’ve ever met, and that’s saying a lot considering where we live.”

Originally from the Montreal area, Arsenault served in the Canadian Armed Forces before moving to British Columbia to pursue his passion for skiing and mountain biking.

Salin described him as a “real skier’s skier” who took calculated risks but never in the name of fame or fortune.

A few years ago Arsenault began drawing more and more attention from magazines and extreme skiing film producers.

“He’d go up there and find the biggest lines on the mountain and find a way down,” Salin said.

“He was doing it in a safe manner, though. It was a freak accident.

“When you expose yourself like that, eventually you’ll have an accident.”

According to Brient, Atlin Search and Rescue received a distress call from the Atlin RCMP detachment at about 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Seven volunteer members of the team traveled 170 kilometres by helicopter to the site, over the White Pass area and finally to the Haines Summit area.

“Visibility was excellent and the team located the group quickly,” Brient said.

Members of Arsenault’s group had prepared a landing pad for the helicopter on a relatively flat glacier.

From the landing area it took the search and rescue team about 15 minutes to reach Arsenault’s body, Brient said.

Arsenault had been equipped with ABS avalanche bags as well as an Avalung breathing system. 

The artificial lung allows a person to breathe under a snow pack in the event of an avalanche.

Unfortunately, Arsenault was unable to use either one, Brient added.

Salin said it’s a cliche but his friend really died doing what he loved.

“I talked to his parents yesterday and his dad told me that his son once thanked him for teaching him how to ski,” Salin said.

Arsenault was a big mountain biking fan, too, and even spent some time in Carcross three summers ago.

Salin said he’ll be returning to the site where Arsenault died next year, to pay tribute to his friend.

“He was everybody’s friend,” he said.

“It’s a testament to who he was as a person that everyone is coming together like this.”

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, electionsyukon.ca has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read