This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
One of legends of the Albertan BASE jumping scene took flight for the final time on Sunday.
Gabriel Hubert was wingsuit flying in Canmore, jumping Ha Ling Peak, when his parachute didn't deploy in time and he crashed into the trees below. Sadly, the 40-year-old welder died on scene.
A forum post on Basejumper.com written by a fellow jumper who was there details what happened:
After exit he really didn't start flying his suit until 100ft over the trees at the end of the talus and the suit was not performing well, this was the start of a 30 sec flight maintaining this distance for the remainder of the flight, with not enough separation we assume he had a problem reaching his BOC [chute pouch]. Ramrod impacted the way he lived his fucking life …………….FULL SPEED……..NOTHING OUT…………..
It was apparently just his second BASE jump with a wingsuit. BASE jumping and wingsuit jumping are entirely different beasts: In BASE jumping you are leaping off a grounded platform with a parachute, whereas in wingsuit flying you are in a specially made suit that allows you to catch the air and glide.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to speak with Gabe for a profile for VICE and talk about his love for the sport and his plans to take it legal.
"To participate in this activity you have to accept that you might die doing it," Hubert told me at the time. "You have to love it enough to accept that I guess."
He was a joy to talk to, smart, funny, and as he put it "a little bit crazy."
BASE jumpers live by the unwritten mantra of "If I die don't cry for me, I'm doing what I love." This was something that Hubert told me several times during the duration of our conversation.
"It is the nature of our life," Hubert's friend and fellow jumper Chris Thombs said Monday. "Sad he is gone but happy he lived!"
Hubert was a legend in the Edmonton BASE jumping community. He was a mentor to many jumpers and founded the 3WA jump team, the Three Welders Association, in 2008 with two other welders. Together the team "conquered," as he put it, several buildings in this town including some of Edmonton's largest, almost always with Hubert personally taking the leap. Several of these jumps had to be well-orchestrated by Hubert and his team almost to the point of espionage. Their missions would involve him dressing up in his finest suit, navigating the building to its roof with a map that he obtained through "methods," and radioing to a convoy to block off the road, allowing him to jump. From the moment his feet left the building to the moment he was driving away in his buddy's vehicle, no jump took him over a minute.
All jumps were a rush to him and these jumps in particular Hubert held close to his heart because of the camaraderie between him and his team.
But Hubert recently put the days of illegal jumps behind him and was actively attempting to put on a Boogie in BC this summer in July. It would have been the first one in Canada. The plan was to legitimize the sport in this country by offering a legal and high-profile place to jump. He had found the ideal spot, a beautiful spot on Kootney Lake. Over the last few months Gabe was finding new jump points on the untamed cliffs that jut out of the lake. He was immensely excited for the upcoming event and the possibility of legitimizing the sport in Canada.
"I think it's an evolution for me." Hubert told me in April. "I think I just see a bigger picture now. Given that it's the only thing stopping us here in Canada is a legitimate place to do it and some recognition. It'd be great to be looked at in a positive light."
According to the Facebook pages of Go Fast Games Canada, the name the event was slated to be called, the Boogie will be postponed because of Hubert's death.
Over our coffee two months ago I asked Hubert about why he did it. Why did he jump? This is an inherently dangerous sport and why, as a father, did he put himself in such danger while making these jumps? He smiled and asked me a question in return.
"Did you ever have dreams that you were flying when you were a kid?"
His final Facebook post read: "Sun is shining, institutionalized on sirius, going wingsuiting, ahhh fuck ya!! Thanks life."
Rest easy Gabe.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.