David Gliddon was making the track safe when he was killed

He was just trying to make it safe.

Katoomba man David Gliddon was working on the spectacular National Pass walking track at Wentworth Falls in the National Park last Wednesday when a sudden rock fall killed him.

The 36-year-old father of twins was an avid rock climber and always insisted on safety first.

It was cruelly ironic that the rockfall occurred while he and two others were repairing the track so it could be reopened to bushwalkers. 

David’s family – parents Colin and Aine, sister Rebecca, and Jacinda Evans, mother of his two-year-olds, Phoenix and Claudia – recalled a man who loved the Mountains and lived for the outdoors.

David Gliddon with his two-year-old son Phoenix coming out of the Grand Canyon in September.

David Gliddon with his two-year-old son Phoenix coming out of the Grand Canyon in September.

Not for David an office job – he embraced a working life that took him climbing, canyoning and abseiling, sharing his passion for nature and the challenges it presented.

David was a Mountains native – born in Katoomba Hospital in 1981 and schooled at Katoomba North Public and later Korowal.

He was taken on his first bushwalk before he was even born, as pregnancy didn’t stop Mrs Gliddon and her husband exploring the beauty of the Mountains.

His first overnight, three-day walk was when he was just seven months old to the Kowmung River in Kanangra-Boyd National Park, where he was christened.

“We wanted to keep walking so we just took him with us,” Mrs Gliddon recalled. “I think he inherited the outdoor adventurous gene.”

The family tradition continued as the Gliddons and other young parents formed the Upper Mountains Bushwalking Club. But by the age of 12, David sought something “more exciting”, Mr Gliddon said.

That something was rock climbing, a passion that took him all over the world.

David made a number of trips to China to work for Chinaclimb, an Australian company doing outdoor education programs. Chinaclimb’s founder said David was “always a positive, no-nonsense person whose energy could change the vibe in an entire room”. 

Mr Gliddon said David was frequently the leader on climbs, setting off first and plotting the safest route.

In 2006 David and a group of friends climbed Asan Usan (4230m) in Krygyzstan as a fundraiser, unofficially breaking  the record for the length of time spent on a rock face without returning to base – a total of 42 days.

“He was just out there in the fresh air on the rock, just experiencing everything,” Mr Gliddon said.

David had the highest qualification for rope access work and had recently completed bridge works for Blue Mountains City Council.  On the day he died he was part of a team contracted to do work for the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“He was like a workhorse,” Mr Gliddon said. “If there was any heavy work or heavy lifting that had to be done, he was there.”

Ms Evans, with whom David had the twins, described him as an “amazing person and a really amazing dad. He was so patient and he loved teaching them [the twins] new things.”

Sister Rebecca recalled her “big brother” as laid back and a natural leader.

David was also an artist – a painting he did in Year 11 still hangs in Korowal – a sculptor and a keen bass guitarist.

The family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and messages since David’s death.

One friend sent a note, describing him as “my best mate, my most kind, friendly, warm, caring, humble, decent, honourable, intelligent, funny, diligent, hard-working, rock-solid mate”.

Another wrote: “He has passed away too soon and tragically but at least it was when doing worthwhile work for the safety of others – and in a place he loved as home.”

National Parks staff are taking it in turns to bring meals. Mrs Gliddon, who worked for the organisation for 40 years, said she was heartened by the warmth and support from the National Parks “family” and the entire Blue Mountains community.

The Gliddons wanted to particularly thank the emergency workers who rescued the two injured men and got David out.

Friends have started a campaign to raise funds for the twins. See https://www.gofundme.com/the-dave-gliddon-fund.