Tributes to ex-Roslin scientist killed in accident

Neil Mackenzie. Pic: PA
Neil Mackenzie. Pic: PA
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TRIBUTES have been paid to a climber who has been killed in a mountaineering accident in Canada.

Neil Mackenzie, 31, was a former Fettes College pupil and worked at the Roslin Institute until last year.

He died along with two women after splitting from a larger group while ice-climbing on Sunday on Mount Joffre.

The bodies of Mr Mackenzie, Elena Cernicka, 35, of North Vancouver, and Stephanie Grothe, 30, who was originally from Germany, were found below the peak after a search on Monday morning.

A statement from the coroner said the climbers had fallen more than 2000ft down a passage on the mountain in the Pemberton area, north of Whistler.

Mr Mackenzie grew up in Farr, near Inverness, and was sent to board at Fettes College at the age of eight.

A spokeswoman for the school said: “We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden death of Neil Mackenzie, a former pupil.

“The Fettes community is devastated by the tragedy of this young life cut short. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Mr Mackenzie left the Roslin Institute at Easter Bush last year to take up a post-doctoral position in a lab at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Professor Colin Farquharson, who worked with him at the Roslin Institute, said: “Neil was an excellent, promising young scientist with a passion for life and a great love for the mountains.

“His enthusiasm for his research – and indeed life in general – was infectious. He was a friend and colleague to many.

“He will be remembered very fondly and will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with him.”

The University of British Columbia’s Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC) said Mr Mackenzie was passionate about the mountains, and members released a statement paying tribute to him.

It said: “With great sadness, the VOC mourns the tragic deaths of Stephanie Grothe, Neil Mackenzie and Elena Cernicka. Stephanie and Neil were very active members of the VOC.

“Elena was a friend of Neil’s, but not a member of the VOC.

“He was an immensely cheerful person, always looking for the next adventure and always good for sharing a drink and a good conversation with.

“He found adventure anywhere and brought humour with him everywhere he went. Any trip with him was guaranteed to be fun.

“To us, he was the epitome of the proverbial Scottish hard man. He dedicated a lot of his time to instructional trips with the club, always providing encouraging words to struggling participants. We all will miss him a lot.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed there had been a British victim in the moutaineering accident.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm the death of a British national in Canada.

“We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”

missed: Neil Mackenzie, who died at the weekend, pictured during his time at Roslin