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Climbers perish on Mount Rundle
Mountains' lure costs 2 Calgary dads their lives
Sarah Chapman and Gwendolyn Richards, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A professional mountain climber who moved to Canada in search of a better life for his daughter was one of two Calgary men who died on the K-Country side of Mount Rundle on the weekend.

Vladimir Khilko and Dmitriy Toporkov failed to return home after what was scheduled to be a day climb on Sunday.

Their bodies were discovered at the bottom of a scree slope on the east side of the mountain by conservation officers and Mounties searching by helicopter on Monday.
Mount Rundle is a ridge that runs from near Banff townsite southeast into Kananaskis Country.

Canmore RCMP investigated the deaths, but found no signs of foul play.

Khilko, 48, and his wife came to Canada from the former Soviet Union after their daughter Olesya was born.

They had friends here who encouraged them to move. Mountains' lure costs 2 Calgary dads their lives
Sarah Chapman and Gwendolyn Richards, Calgary Herald
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Field does not know what precipitated the fall, but said Khilko and Toporkov would likely have been connected as they climbed.

He said the conditions over the weekend were good for climbing, but that the activity has an inherent danger.

"Most climbers accept that," Field said.

These deaths come only months after two other climbers were killed in Kananaskis Country.

On the May long weekend, Christopher Lynn, 40, of Calgary and 25-year-old Scott Whelan of Olds plunged 240 metres off a ledge while scaling Mount Lorette.

The pair had been hooked together at the time, RCMP said.

Last November, Anthony James Devonshire died of injuries sustained after he was trapped under snow for two hours following an avalanche that occurred as he was ice climbing on Fortress Mountain.

"The political and economic situation was better in Canada," his wife Natalia said on Tuesday.

"We thought there would be a better future for our daughter here."

After spending four-and-a-half years in Ontario, the family moved to Calgary a year ago -- in part to be closer to the mountains.

Khilko found a job at Maple Leaf as a millwright.

Also a climbing coach and qualified rescuer, he had travelled to China and Nepal to hone his skills, said Natalia.

"I supported him," she said, her voice cracking.

It was through his love of climbing that he was introduced to Toporkov through mutual friends.

Toporkov, 35, was also from the former Soviet Union and moved to Canada from Kazakhstan.

He became a bus driver with Calgary Transit and, also an accomplished climber, yearned to spend time in the mountains.

"They have been doing this for a long time," said Zhanna Porovina, a friend of Toporkov's.

"Every weekend, they go to the mountains."

On Sunday, Khilko and Toporkov headed out to Kananaskis Country as they often did, but when they didn't return home, their families reported them missing to the RCMP.

A manhunt for the two men ended when searchers in a helicopter found the pair at the bottom of the scree slope.

The families are still in the dark as to what happened to the men.

They are waiting for the return of their possessions, including ropes, hooks and other climbing gear.

"From the ropes, we would be able to tell," said Maria Kudienko, who is close to both families.

Toporkov's mother is flying from Kazakhstan to be with his wife, Natalie, and his children, Christina, 13, and Dennis, 5.

Khilko's daughter, Olesya, 21, is on her way home from university in Hamilton.

"It's really hard for them, but they have lots of friends to support them," said Kudienko.

A public safety specialist for Kananaskis Country said the area continues to see more and more climbers each year, including the east end of Mount Rundle -- known affectionately among users as EEOR.

"There is lots of activity all through Kananaskis and the Bow corridor as far as climbing goes," said George Field.

The 549-metre vertical limestone wall -- where Khilko and Toporkov were climbing -- is a popular site with new climbing routes being added as the climbing community takes on new challenges, he added.



it is a pity...






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