The body of an experienced mountaineer who had embarked on a solo trip in Strathcona Park in early July has been found.
Laurence Philippsen, 65, of Black Creek, had left on June 29 for a 40-kilometre trip into the rugged backcountry near Gold River. He had planned to spend three days in the backcountry, and left a detailed trip plan at home. He was expected to return July 2.
Crews initially searched a remote area for four days that included technical terrain around five mountain peaks, each taller than 6,000 feet.
When new information emerged about where Philippsen was thought to be heading, friends and colleagues from the mountaineering community, search and rescue crews, and RCMP members started the search once again.
But according to a Comox Valley Search & Rescue post on social media, “no clues were produced to lead us to Laurence’s whereabouts amidst this rugged and remote area of Vancouver Island,” and the search was again suspended.
His missing person file remained open with the RCMP and according to friend Lindsay Elms, friends of Philippsen continued to pursue their own adventures in the area, “knowing that Laurence was out there somewhere, and although not a pleasant thought, were hoping they might find him.”
In a social media post on Aug. 20, Elms shares that with Philippsen’s family’s blessing, he is notifying the climbing community that Philippsen was found, about a week earlier on the south side of Mount Laing.
“There is comfort, especially for the family, knowing what happened,” writes Elms.
According to Elms, it appears Philippsen fell and died instantly.
The BC Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating a death from the Strathcona Park area near Mount Laing from earlier this month. The investigation to determine cause of death is in its early stages.
“As mountaineers, we know only too well that there is this side to mountaineering,” writes Elms. “There is passion, but also pain.
“I will remember Laurence for many things, but it was his love of adventure and his willingness to explore new places that brought us together in the mountains.”
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