Climbing fall claims life of 63-year-old Jasper man

A Jasper, Alta., man killed in a climbing fall has been described by a friend on Facebook as “a timeless wonder of a man filled with talent.”

Steve Stanko, 63, died May 30 after being injured in a fall while rock climbing with friends in Jasper National Park.

The fall happened just before 4 p.m. in the area of Leach Lake at the “Lost Boys” rock climbing area, RCMP said.

Stanko was climbing with another man and a Jasper couple when he fell about 30 metres, police said in a news release Monday.

RCMP, Parks Canada and emergency services responded after 911 was called. Stanko was pronounced dead soon after emergency crews arrived at the scene.

Stanko was born and raised in Jasper. He and friend Dave MacDowell were co-owners of Freewheel, a local bicycle and snowboard shop, for more than 15 years.

“I owe a lot of what I’ve learned in business, as well as life to time spent with him,” MacDowell wrote on Facebook.

MacDowell described Stanko as a local pioneer in cycling, snowboarding, trail building and rock climbing, a man “who opened doors to the possibilities of what life had to offer in the mountains for new generations of explorers.”

Stanko was a gifted athlete, an entrepreneur and a community builder, said MacDowell.

“Wanna ride all day on the summer solstice? Yup. Wanna make Freewheel a snowboard shop in the winter? Yup. Wanna give back to this community over and over again? A big Yes, every time.”

Stanko was “part of the culture of Jasper,” said Brian Rode, vice-president of marketing and sales at Marmot Basin.

“He was not one to wait for life to happen, he went after it,” said Rode, who knew Stanko for decades.

MacDowell wrote the one thing he will take from his friend is to “fully live every day and don’t expect others to make your life amazing, it’s up to you to make it happen.”

Stanko leaves behind his wife Leanne and extended family.

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