R.I.P Chris McCrum - Squamish Legend Passes Away in Skiing Accident

Jan 7, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  

Trail builder and former Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) executive board member Chris McCrum has passed away after being caught up in an avalanche while skiing.

Chris, 42, was skiing with a group on January 3 in a backcountry area when the avalanche hit. The group were well equipped for the trip and were able to locate Chris with an emergency beacon but by the time they dug him out he had already died. The Pemberton Search and Rescue team had been contacted to assist in reaching the victim however, due to weather conditions and flying restrictions, the group had to stay in a nearby cabin until they could be reached on Friday morning.

McCrum was an active member of SORCA and well liked within the Squamish community. He will be remembered for the advocacy work he did to have Squamish’s bike trails officially recognised by the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, and for leading the group’s Trail Pass program that collected funds that went directly into trail building.

A Facebook post by SORCA on Sunday evening identified Chris as the avalanche victim and said: "When one of our own passed away on January 3rd, our whole community felt the heartbreaking loss. Chris McCrum died doing what he loved, exploring the mountains. Chris was a dedicated volunteer, a passionate past SORCA exec board member, an exceptional trail builder, an incredible athlete, and a friend to many of us. His energy will be felt for years to come on many of the surrounding Squamish trails that he had a hand in building and maintaining. From the breathtaking bridges through Crumpit Woods, to the gruelling switchbacks on Farside and Rock n Roll, the long and winding Tracks from Hell, the tranquil bridges in Coho Park, the many kiosks and the much needed Carpenter Son's Bridge, just to name a few, Chris gave back time and time again to the trails.

"Back in 2006 he helped spearhead the work needed for trails to earn official recognition under the B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts (MOTCA)’s trails management strategy, no small task. Then in 2010, after a few beers at one of our many after parties, Chris and friends came up with the idea for the SORCA Trail Pass program. A way to reach various trail users and collect funds to go directly back into the dirt and the weathered hands of our countless trail builders. In 2011 the SORCA Trail Pass program began and was a turning point for our organization which helped launch us to the next level.

"We are eternally grateful to Chris for his dedication and time spent to making the Squamish trails the world class network that it is. So the next time your tire hits the dirt, or your shovel strikes the ground, tip your helmet in thanks to an incredible pioneer, Chris McCrum. We like to think that on January 3rd, just like he did in every toonie he raced in, Chris simply took another path, he ventured off somewhere to explore the mountains and we lost sight of him for the time being. RIP Chris, we hope to share a cold one with you at the after party."

Our thoughts are with Chris' family and friends in this difficult time. RIP.


54 Comments

  • + 93
 Sad news. Avys are scary business.

Before I had kids my mentality was “if I go it will be
doing what I love”. Know I’m “is hitting this line worth the risk of not seeing my kids again?!”
  • + 42
 Don't forget "my kids are counting on me to provide for them."
  • + 96
 I stopped road biking when I had kids for the exact reason. I can hurt myself mountain biking, but it's hard to kill myself. On the road, death feels like it could happen every time I hear a car come up behind me.
  • + 5
 Exactly.
  • - 7
flag utley06 (Jan 7, 2019 at 8:26) (Below Threshold)
 @big-red: I'll never understand road biking.. The fight to "share the road" is a fight that cannot be won. Motorcyclist and Road Cyclist will continue to die as long as they ride on the road with cars. I live in Bentonville Arkansas were Walmart has put in hundreds of miles of safe, smooth, wide, bike paths. Road Cyclist still will not use them. They continue to block traffic and risk their lives..
  • + 8
 @utley06: I won't even get into the "share the road is a fight that cannot be won" bit, but I live in an area with dedicated paved biking paths that get tons of use. Commuters, roadies, families, all of the above.

We even had a local brewery open a 2nd location adjacent to the bike path with the express purpose of attracting people to stop in on a ride. And they're packed when the weather's nice.

Plus, tons of local support and advocacy for maintaining and expanding the biking paths. There's no question that the path has reduced vehicle/bicycle accidents and saved lives.

IDK what's wrong with your roadies in Arkansas, but ours love our dedicated bike paths. And so does the rest of the community.
  • + 5
 @big-red: That's why I MTB. If I'm going to risk my life, I'll take the adrenaline rush of pushing myself over someone looking at their phone for a second. If I get hurt/die mountain biking, at least I was probably doing something fun/less than brilliant at the time of the incident. If I get taken out as someone veers in to the shoulder, I don't even get the benefit of the exhilaration...just a funeral.
  • + 1
 @utley06: Not sure why the negs, but I completely agree with your pov.

Where I live, tons of roadies, and I've seen more grusome bike accidents in 3 years here than in my whole life previous.
  • + 2
 @big-red: so true, getting buzzed by a car going 100+km/h hopping that they see you as they approach never stops being terrifying.
  • + 3
 @utley06: "share the road" applies to more than just road cyclists. it applies to people going to work, families riding to the park or store, children riding to school, and even mountain bikers riding to their ride.
  • + 3
 @pmhobson: I like how everyone assumes I'm anti road bikers or don't want to share the road. If it were up to me, we would all be on bikes instead of in cars. I raced motocross and I even own a road bike. However, I would never ride on the road with cars on any kinda bike or a motorcycle. I'm not trying to piss anyone off, Its just simple logic. Getting pissed or down voting me will not decrease your risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
  • - 4
flag pmhobson (Jan 7, 2019 at 12:59) (Below Threshold)
 @utley06: who said i was pissed or down voted you?
  • - 7
flag conoat (Jan 7, 2019 at 18:24) (Below Threshold)
 @utley06: literally, you're getting downvoted(and rightfully so) for a single word there. I will let you try to figure it out......
  • - 10
flag Beez177 (Jan 7, 2019 at 18:47) (Below Threshold)
 @conoat: I smell a roadie. Good luck with that, you"ll need it. Real men do it in the dirt.
  • + 17
 I remember thinking the "I will go doing what I love" line of thinking. Then in the space of a year, I had two recreation-related acquaintances who died. One had kids, one didn't. My thoughts for them was yeah, they were doing what they loved until one got swept down a slope, getting beaten up and broken along the way, then running out of breath in a lonely place. The other was upside down in a boat, trapped, panicking, and trying to free herself from a tangled spot on a river until she eventually succumbed.

In both cases, doing what they loved turned into what I am sure must have been a short nightmare. We all accept risks with the sports we love, but I have come to realize that the moment doing what we love turns into an act of dying, we are no longer doing what we love.
  • + 8
 Well said Eyun. The Pinkbike comments section is an interesting place. The article is honouring someone who recently died- and will be read by both people who knew them and others who didn't. I think arguing about the subjective safety of road bikes over mountain bikes might not be what is helpful for those feeling the gut wringing and inconsolable pain of losing someone important to them. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Chris made some wonderful and compassionate contributions to mountain biking that will live on and was someone who meant a lot to a lot of people. I've spent my life outdoors and know the reward we can find pushing our limits or just appreciating being somewhere beautiful and natural- I'm glad we continue to pursue this but also appreciate the necessary sadness of losing some of our outdoor family to the added risks that come with that reward. Thank you Chris for your contributions and I hope those of you feeling the pain of this loss have support and compassion available to you as losing those we love sucks and is a necessary but horrific pain.
  • + 0
 @big-red: Plus you want your kids to look up to you right? Haha Nah but seriously you are right. Riding on the road is way more scary than hitting up a gnarly trail. The only thing I fear (s much as running into a Chinese tourist on the wrong side of the road): Is coming round a bend at 100+ and taking out some poor dumb bastard with shaved legs. That would be horrendous.
  • + 47
 he had such a huge impact on how mountain biking has developed in Squamish, huge loss for the town and the corridor. A lot of friends reeling from this one, my heart goes out to them.
  • + 9
 Well said. RIP
  • + 31
 Hell of a headline to see first thing in the morning. Chris was not only a legend, but one of the nicest people I've known. Funny, smart, fiercely motivated, and a crusher on bike or skis. I'll miss you, man.
  • + 17
 Sounds like a great guy who I would have loved to know. Rest in Peace and thank you for your contributions. Prayers for your family.
  • + 9
 Chris was such a good person who did so much for mountain biking in Squamish. This town wouldn't be what it is today without him. Thank you for who you were and all that you did. You are bigger than life. Love to you.
  • + 6
 I never had the pleasure of meeting Chris, but I benefit from his hard work and dedication every time I ride the trails in Squamish. Thanks so much Chris! RIP man.
  • + 9
 ❤️
  • + 3
 Very sad to hear about this loss. Condolences to all who knew him. To others who like to enjoy back country winter sports, please use all available data to inform you decision about whether to go out. Nothing worse than hearing about, well-equipped, experienced groups making decisions to go out in high and extreme avalanche conditions.
  • + 9
 respectfully, they were already at a remote backcountry cabin on a multi-day trip when this storm hit. I know in Whistler the temperature spiked rapidly Thursday causing the snowpack to change quickly, we don't know what happened up there leading up to the accident.
  • + 5
 so sorry. Im getting pretty fatalistic about the ability of a beacon to change outcomes after an avalanche burial.
  • + 17
 Unfortunately because of the trauma associated with being caught in an avalanche a beacon can become a body recovery tool. I've had first hand experience with this. My heart goes out to Chris' family and friends. R.I.P.
  • + 6
 The way the flux lines work they are not 100% intuitive either. You really got to regularly practice with them. And even then like you say they won't save someones life all the time even when the most experienced user is performing the rescue. Though the other day I was reading about someone that rescued his companion who was buried like 14 feet deep, so I do think they serve a purpose. Much like seatbelts, you can still die wearing one but you'd be a fool not to put it on properly.
  • + 2
 Locating and saving someone who is buried is an unlikely outcome sadly. Bruce Tremper talks about this in his book with some good statistics. Rest in peace Chris - very sad story.
  • + 1
 I think the best tool for increasing your chances of survival is an airbag. If you have an airbag and beacon your chances of surviving a slide are much, much higher.
  • + 7
 @skycripp: Airbags are another tool for sure but I think the best chance of increasing your survival rate is conservative route finding and decision making. I agree if you are caught in a slide an airbag is a great tool, however, I do wonder how much people increase the amount of risks they are willing to take because they have an airbag, potentially not making you any safer.
  • + 3
 @iantmcg: I've heard that argument before and while it's interesting, I can say that I personally am just as much a coward with or without my airbag.
  • + 3
 What scares me is how many people have tranceivers, but possess no real clue how to use them. Some years ago I spent a month riding Whitewater, near Nelson. They had 10 buried in a meadow near the lodge. You could get a device from ski patrol to activate them and practice single or multiple searches. It allowed me to become much more proficient and hopefully more effective if my worse nightmare ever came true. I know there's no guarantee of survival, but I honestly believe fewer lives would be lost if this idea became the norm across all ski fields. RIP Chris and my condolences to his family and friends.
  • + 3
 Thoughts go out to his family and friends. I know the enormity of such a loss.
  • + 1
 I lost a friend in a car accident... so I sold my car and avoid streets and roads now. My thoughts are also going to friends and family, death does not make sens....
  • + 1
 I was literally just thinking 10 minutes ago that I was glad to have not heard of any avalanche fatalities this season. Avalanches are stupid.
  • + 2
 RIP young man!!! Avy's are terrifying. Prayers and love to his family and friends in this time!!!!
  • + 3
 Ride In Peace Frown
  • + 2
 Yeah Chris.. Ride in Peace!
  • + 2
 rest easy chris
  • + 2
 R.I.P.
  • + 1
 So sorry to hear this news. Condolences to his friends and family.
  • + 2
 ride in peace
  • + 1
 Such sad news. My heart goes out to those close to him.
  • + 2
 Rest in peace
  • + 2
 Rest in peace.
  • + 1
 RIP. Condolences to all here who knew him.
  • + 1
 Ride in Peace
  • + 1
 Rest in Peace, Chris.
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