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

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Local New Democrat Zeb King welcomed Premier John Horgan during a brief photo opportunity in Sidney Monday afternoon (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
NDP leader John Horgan predicts party will ‘flip’ Saanich North and the Islands

Incumbent MLA Adam Olsen calls Horgan’s claim ‘bold’

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

London Drugs at Colwood Corners is temporarily closed after a water main burst on Sunday afternoon. (Google Maps)
Water main burst temporarily closes London Drugs in Colwood

Staff say re-opening date yet to be determined after Sunday incident

West Shore RCMP say a single car crash into a power pole caused a power outage that affected over 1,500 residents in Colwood on Monday morning. (West Shore RCMP)
Vancouver driver cause of power outage in Colwood

Police detain 27-year-old man for impaired driving investigation

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read