Elena Cernicka was a loving wife and mother of two young boys who tragically lost her life in an ice climbing accident on Sunday Jan. 11,2015, climbing the Joffre Peaks near Pemberton, BC. She was a North Vancouver local with an admiration for the outdoors.
Please help her husband, Tomas Cernicka and their two sons. Any donations are greatly appreciated and all proceeds will go towards funeral costs and any day-to-day living expenses in their time of grief.
The following is a statement written by the family of Elena Cernicka, 35, of North Vancouver.Elena was a Patient Safety Co-ordinator with Providence Health Care, a wonderful wife, and a mother of two. Squamish Climbing Magazine is privileged to be able to share their story.
“As the morning of Saturday January 10th approached, Elena and her husband Tomas were looking forward to their weekend backcountry trip in anticipation. They were leaving their two little children, Martin, 2, and Jakub, 4, with their grandparents for only one night and the boys were very excited about their slumber party!
Elena and Tomas left Vancouver with their friends Oskar, Neil, and Stephanie and headed off to Pemberton. The original plan was that all five friends were going to climb up the Central Couloir at Joffre Peak, however, the plan started to change as the team arrived at the hut. Elena was going to head up the Central Couloir with Neil and Stephanie, while Tom and Oskar made plans to take a route up to Matier Mountain to get a little less climbing and more skiing out of their trip.
The morning of January 11 around 5 am, Neil, Stephanie and Elena headed off to climb the Central Couloir, agreeing to meet Tomas and Oskar on the other side of the mountain.
Oskar and Tomas were at the meeting point on time and when the climbing group didn’t show up, Tomas and Oskar skied back down to the hut thinking that Elena and her climbing partners might have turned around because of possible difficulties and were already at the hut. When the climbers weren’t there, Tomas and Oskar decided to retrace the climbers’ steps. Around 10:00pm on Sunday January 11, Tomas found Elena’s helmet, broken and disfigured, lying in the snow. About 20m further on, they found her body.
Elena was a very cautious climber whenever in the backcountry. Being her little sister, she would always lecture me on the importance of having the correct equipment when outdoors and she would never let me go on any trips unless she was certain that I was with an experienced and capable group.
I know that in the very moment before the accident she was enjoying the beautiful scenery she was in but she didn’t love anything more than her children and her family. I have known her my whole life, and I am certain that if she considered the area or the conditions even a little unsafe she would have turned right back around even if that meant heading down from just below the summit. The fall was a very tragic accident and Elena held on to her life with every bit of strength in her injured body, holding on and hoping to make it back to her family.
Elena was the strongest woman I have ever known and was the best role model anyone could’ve had. Elena is described by the climbing community as friendly and positive. Her smile lit up any room, conversation, or situation she was in. She had a huge heart and a passion for the outdoors that was as infectious as it was evident. Elena was the strongest woman I had ever known and was the best role model anyone could’ve had.”
Written by Elena’s sister, Alica Majercinova.