The base jumping community is mourning the death of a Squamish athlete who previously made local headlines for launching off the iconic KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2015.
Mike Racicot died on July 26 in Switzerland, his sister told The Chief. It was his 969th jump.
“He was just the most beautiful soul,” Rachel Polite said of her younger brother, who would be turning 38 years old on Aug. 26.
Polite said some of the defining characteristics of Racicot was his love of living, a philosophy that was literally a part of him.
The words, “Enjoy life,” were tattooed on his wrist.
“That was his motto, and he literally lived it every single day,” Polite said.
It was a way of living that led Racicot, a journeyman carpenter and a beekeeper, to choose unconventional paths.
He was known to put in base jumps off the Stawamus Chief before going to work, which he called his morning coffee, Polite said.
His nickname, ‘Treehouse Mike,’ was the result of him actually living in a treehouse for about a year.
Racicot grew up in Barrhaven, in the Ottawa area. He moved to Squamish in 2010, but before coming to town, Racicot was drawn to Whistler for the snowboarding life.
Shocked by the high rental prices, he decided to strike out on his own and build a hidden treehouse in Whistler Mountain.
“It was the crappiest thing you could possibly imagine,” said Polite with a laugh. “He lived there for a long time. It drove us all crazy out here, because we were like, ‘Mike, are you serious?’”
Racicot had at least one close encounter as a result of his living arrangement.
“I even called him one time on my lunch time from work and he couldn't talk because there was a bear right outside of his treehouse,” Polite said, chuckling.
“He had to hang up on me. I was sitting in this restaurant just thinking, ‘Is my brother being mauled right now by a bear, and I’m in the middle of a Kelsey’s eating, like, a chicken burger?’...We were so happy when he finally got a girlfriend, because we were just thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, does this mean, finally, no more treehouse?’”
Racicot is also remembered as an uncle who wouldn’t hesitate to keep in touch with the little ones in the family, and friends posted numerous messages online recalling how ‘Treehouse Mike’ was a bright person who made a lasting impact on the sport of base jumping.
Indeed, in 2015, Racicot was featured in The Chief after completing 26 jumps from the KL Tower. He was one among 120 people, who, over three days, launched themselves from the building about 3,000 times.
At the time of the event, the KL Tower was considered the seventh-highest freestanding tower in the world.
“This is the first time I went to participate in the event,” he told The Chief shortly after his jump. “I had a dream of going there.”
In addition to taking leaps off world-renowned towers, Racicot also made jumps in Sibu, another city in Malaysia. He also took his aerial adventures to Thailand, and, locally, the Stawamus Chief, among other places.
Professional colleagues also remember Racicot fondly.
An employee with APEX BASE, which sponsored Racicot, told The Chief in a Facebook conversation that the athlete was “One of the best all-around jumpers on the planet.”
“[He was] very skilled, beloved by all, and just a positive influence on the sport and jumpers,” wrote Joe Putrino, who said he had worked with Racicot.
The company also put up a tribute post on Facebook: “Working with Mike was an absolute pleasure and we’re deeply saddened that we won’t have the honour of working with him for many more years to come.”
In the meantime, a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe was started to assist Racicot’s family.
“He lived life to the fullest and not too many people can say that, but he actually did,” reads the page.
“From driving a scooter across Canada, to building a live-in treehouse in Whistler, to jumping off of the biggest structures and cliffs in the world.”
Friends and family are invited to a celebration of life on Aug. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Norman Rudy’s, 40900 Tantalus Road.
The GoFundMe campaign can be found at: www.gofundme.com/miketreehouseracicot