Scottish climber killed in 2,000ft fall from mountain in Canada

Neil Mackenzie, 31, had been living in Vancouver

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The Independent Online

A Scottish man has been killed alongside two other climbers in a 2,000ft fall from a mountain in Canada.

The bodies of Neil Mackenzie, 31, Elena Cernicka, 35, of North Vancouver, Canada and Stephanie Grothe, 30, who was originally from Germany, were discovered after a search on Monday.

A statement from the British Columbia Coroners Service said the climbers had fallen more than 600m down a passage on the mountain in the Pemberton area, north of Whistler.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the coroner are said to be investigating the deaths.

Mr Mackenzie, who was originally from Scotland but had been living in Vancouver, was said to have split from a larger group with the two women to go ice climbing on Mount Joffre.

Staff Sgt Steve Leclair, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), said the climbers were part of a group of five.

When the trio failed to return, the rest of their group went looking for them and the husband of one of the climbers spotted his wife’s body, the BBC reported. The group then contacted search and rescue units.

Mr Mackenzie was found in a crevasse below the peak by members of Pemberton Search and Rescue.

Sgt Leclair said the dead "were all found deceased within 40 metres of each other".

"From what it appears, they had climbed up the main Joffre Peak and got very near the top – and then had a very tragic fall," he added.

According to CBC News, Mr Mackenzie was a post-doctoral fellow at UBC in the Centre for Blood Research, Ms Grothe was a PhD student in physics and astronomy at the University of British Columbia and Ms Cernicka was a patient safety co-ordinator with Providence Health Care.

They were part of a team who travelled to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park on January 10 and spent that night in a backcountry hut in the park, before deciding to separate from the group and hike up a steep gully, known as the central couloir, wearing crampons.

They were roped together, near the top of the couloir, when they fell about 600 metres to their deaths, RCMP said.

The coroner said: "The families of all three victims have been notified of their deaths. On behalf of family members, the BC Coroners Service asks that the media respect their privacy."

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson confirmed that one of the victims was a British national.

"We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time," the spokesperson added.

Additional reporting by PA