The burgeoning career of a quiet young Bulgarian Calgarian chemist ended in an ice climbing disaster on the weekend.
Ivaylo Minkov, 29, died before rescuers could reach him, after a 30-metre fall from Mt. Dennison in Yoho National Park on Sunday.
Golden RCMP said the Bulgarian national, who was living in Calgary, lost his grip and plummeted nearly 10 storeys to his death.
Minkov had travelled back to Bulgaria in September and had since applied for several jobs at the University of Calgary, said Dr. Tom Ziegler, a university chemistry professor who worked with post-doctoral fellow Minkov from 2006 to 2007, adding his research interests included using computer simulations to study the affect of vibration on molecules.
“He was very popular around here and very easy to deal with,” said Ziegler, who didn’t know of Minkov’s ice-climbing pursuits though remembered him as a very quiet and private young man. “He was very diligent and generally kept to himself.”
Minkov’s common-law girlfriend, who reported the fall, was behind him at the time but wasn’t injured, police said, adding climbing ropes were being used at the time and park wardens are in the process of retrieving them for further examination in order to eliminate them as the possible cause.
The couple was climbing a popular waterfall ice column called Guiness, close to Field, B.C., and near the continental divide, which splits Yoho and Banff National Parks. It is widely known for its diverse ice climbing possibilities, said Parks Canada’s Ross MacDonald.
“Climbing can (be) treacherous at the best of times, and unfortunately, we do end up with a number of incidents and fatalities each year,” MacDonald said. “Any activity in backcountry can be subject to changes of weather and varying conditions, especially as we are nearing the end of the ice climbing season.”
His family in Bulgaria was notified of his death and RCMP continue to investigate.
Calgary Bulgarian Society president Sasha Tsenkova said Minkov’s death was very disheartening and the group will be trying to plan some sort of memorial in the coming days.