The man who died on the slopes of Powder King this weekend was a current member of the RCMP, and a longtime community activist.
According to the RCMP, Const. Greg Pichler spent his entire career in northern B.C., and touched lives in the smallest of towns as well as in the city in that process.
"He was a 17-year member of the RCMP," said police spokeswoman Const. Lesley Smith. "During those years he started first in Prince George then was posted to Alexis Creek, Tsey Keh and Fort St. James detachments."
Smith said he maintained relationships in all those communities and was a valued member of the region's police force because of his ability to earn respect and return it to others.
"He was off-duty when he collapsed. He was out doing what he loved to do, skiing with friends," said Smith.
Long-time friend Erin Reynolds of the Canadian Cancer Society confirmed Pichler was an avid lover of snowboarding, skiing and cycling. It was the latter passion that drew him to the RCMP's Cops For Cancer Tour de North event each year. She said he was more than a rider, he also did duty on the support crew, and was part of the organizing committee.
"I have experienced cancer through the eyes of my mother, friends, children of friends and even through my pets," said Pichler in a recent Cops For Cancer statement. "I am participating in the Tour de North to bring a bigger awareness about cancer. If everybody does just a little bit, I believe that we will be able to beat cancer."
That personal investment in something he cared about was Pichler's hallmark, Reynolds said.
"He put his heart and soul into Cops For Cancer," she explained, while fighting the emotions of her own grief. "He always had a positive attitude. He brought passion to the table, he brought passion to the road, he brought passion to the ski slopes, he lived his whole life with passion. He tried always to put smiles on faces, he had a great sense of humour. He put a lot of effort into caring for people and remembering the small things. There should be more people like him in the world, if you ask me."
The cause of Pichler's death is not yet known. According to BC Coroners Service spokeswoman Barb McLintock, "As he was skiing towards the top of the mountain, he complained of feeling unwell, and then others witnessed him collapse. Despite extensive resuscitation efforts, Mr. Pichler was confirmed deceased at the scene of the incident."
Gregory Joshua Pichler, 52, was also passionate about his two sons and a large group of friends. A memorial service is being planned, according to family sources, but it will be "a simple gathering involving family and friends celebrating his life."