The wingsuit-wearing Alberta man who plunged to his death near Canmore Sunday has been identified by friends as Gabriel Hubert, a prominent devotee of the extreme sport known as BASE jumping.
The 40-year-old Mr. Hubert lived in Warburg, a village about 60 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.
He only got into skydiving and BASE jumping at a relatively late age, a decade ago.
Still, his enthusiasm was such that he quickly became a well-known practitioner of BASE jumping, where people using parachutes leap off a mountain or a building.
"He was very loved and respected. I don't think Gabe had an enemy around. He's going to be severely missed," said a friend and fellow skydiver, Delaine Legere.
In a feature profile published this spring in news website Vice.com, Mr. Hubert was described as Edmonton's most prolific jumper.
"In Alberta, here, he's certainly one of our leaders in BASE jumping," Mr. Legere said.
Mr. Hubert, who was known by the nickname "Ramrod," was a welder by trade. But his passion was illustrated in his social-media profiles, full of photos of himself with arms spread out, diving off cliffs, tall buildings and bridges, a GoPro camera bolted to his helmet.
"Sun is shining … going wingsuiting … Thanks life," he said in the last post on his Facebook page, written Saturday, less than 24 hours before his death.
The sport had taken him around the world.
In September of 2013, on what he later described as an "epic day," he marked his birthday by making eight consecutive 300-metre dives off the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur. On his last leap that day, he accompanied Lonnie Bissonnette, a wheelchair jumper.
His bucket list included the 979-metre-high Angel Falls in Venezuela, Navagio Bay, a Greek cove ringed by cliffs, and Monte Brento in Italy.
Mr. Hubert was in the midst of organizing a "boogie" – a BASE-jumping event – that was to be held in Kaslo, B.C., next month. The gathering is now expected to be postponed.
While the July event was authorized by officials, BASE jumpers often struggle with the fact that their sport is perceived as a dangerous, thrill-seeking activity. They sometimes have to trespass to have access to their jumping points ("BASE" is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth).
On several occasions, Edmonton police have arrested BASE jumpers. In the most recent incident, three men were detained last March on allegations they broke into a downtown construction site to jump off a crane.
"I want the world to know that more thought and preparation go into the 'crazy' things I do then is commonly thought," Mr. Hubert said about himself, in a profile on Stohke.com, a website for amateurs of actions sports.
The thrill and danger of his sport were recurrent themes in the words he wrote or said.
In the Vice.com profile, Mr. Hubert told his interviewer that "to participate in this activity, you have to accept that you might die doing it. You have to love it enough to accept that."
On Facebook, he sounded defiant when he wrote two years ago: "Why tiptoe through life to arrive safely at death's doorstep?"
Mr. Hubert was the father of two young children, a nine-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son, Mr. Legere said.
"All of us care dearly about life. We love living and none of us are there to kill ourselves. Everything is researched, trained, checked and checked and double checked and packed meticulously," Mr. Legere said.
The RCMP have not confirmed that Mr. Hubert was the victim of Sunday's accident.
The police said that the fatal accident occurred after a 40-year-old and two companions jumped off Ha Ling Peak near Canmore while wearing wingsuits.
The specialized outfits have fabric stitched between the arms and body that increases a jump's surface area and allows a user to fly impressive horizontal distances at a slower descent rate before they deploy their parachutes.
While the two companions landed safely, the man who died hit the trees without his parachute opening.
"The only thing we have an understanding of is that his parachute did not deploy," RCMP Sergeant Ryan Currie said Monday. "I cannot say for certain if it was human error or an equipment malfunction."
Sgt. Currie said the practice is not illegal and is quite common in the area.
"Ha Ling Peak is actually a fairly accessible mountain. A lot of people do hike the trail up the backside to reach the peak.
"A lot of people do use that area for BASE jumping with wingsuits and parachutes," the sergeant said. "It's common for people to use it, but not common for us to have accidents of this sort."
The dead man's two companions called for help. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Calgary chief medical examiner's office is investigating.
With reports from The Canadian Press