updated 12/11/2009 2:58:49 AM ET 2009-12-11T07:58:49

World-class ice climber Guy Lacelle died in an avalanche during an ice climbing event in southwestern Montana, his sponsor confirmed.

John Irvine, the sports marketing manager for Arc'teryx, said he learned of Lacelle's Thursday death from a festival organizer. Arc'teryx makes ice climbing equipment and sponsors Lacelle and is a sponsor of the Bozeman Ice Festival.

Irvine called Lacelle a "fanatical ice climber" and called his death a "huge, huge loss."

Devoted to climbing
"He loves climbing and he loves sharing the sport with other people," Irvine said. "That's what his life was all about."

Irvine said Lacelle was a foreman for a tree planting company in British Columbia during the summer and took the winters off to ice climb.

Patrol Sgt. Jason Jarrett with Gallatin County Search and Rescue said 22 rescuers responded to the Grotto Falls area of Hyalite Canyon Thursday afternoon to retrieve the body.

Deputy Chief Coroner Dan Springer said the cause and manner of death had not yet been determined for Lacelle, 54.

Thursday was the first day of the Bozeman Ice Festival at Hyalite. The festival promotes the sport of ice climbing, educates ice climbers about climbing skills and safe climbing techniques, and introduces climbers to cutting edge ice climbing clothing and equipment.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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