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Hansjörg Auer and David Lama at their highpoint during their first attempt of Schiefer Riss on the Sagwand.
Photo by Hansjörg Auer
Jess Roskelley making the first ascent of the South Ridge of Mount Huntington, Alaska, 2017
Photo by Clint Helander
David Lama and Hansjörg Auer. The two Austrian alpinists are reported missing after an avalanche in the Rocky Mountains in Canada, along with American alpinist Jess Roskelley. In this picture Lama and Auer are climbing the SE Ridge of Annapurna III in Nepal on 29 April 2016
Photo by David Lama / Red Bull Content Pool

Hopes dwindle for Hansjörg Auer, David Lama, Jess Roskelley

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The authorities at Parks Canada have issued a statement in which three mountaineers, presumed to be David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer, have died in an avalanche on Howse Peak in Canada.

The tragic news of Austrian mountaineers Hansjörg Auer and David Lama and America’s Jess Roskelley, presumed dead after an avalanche on Howse Peak in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, seems to be increasingly confirmed.

After yesterday’s initial fragmentary news, first reported in Europe by Austria’s Tiroler Tageszeitung which however made no mention of American alpinist Jess Roskelley, it now seems clear that those who have lost their lives are indeed these three world famous mountaineers.

Yesterday the father of Jess, renowned alpinist John Roskelley, posted on Facebook "As I write this, I know from speaking with the Park Service and rescue personnel yesterday that Jess, David and Hansjorg are presumed dead. It is with a heavy heart I have to say this, but they were hit by a massive avalanche off Mt. Howse sometime on Tuesday and there was visible evidence they perished. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts."

The sponsor of all three alpinists, The North Face, published the following press release on Facebook: "It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer, members of our Global Athlete Team, were presumed caught in an avalanche on April 16th in Alberta, Canada. They are missing, and local search and rescue has assumed the worst. We are waiting to learn additional information as the search mission continues. They are valued and loved members of The North Face family. We are doing everything we can to support their families, friends and the climbing community during this difficult time and will continue to keep you updated. We ask that you keep our athletes and their loved ones in your hearts and thoughts."

Parks Canada, who sent the first helicopter that searched the area, issued the following statement "On Wednesday, April 17th, a party of three alpine mountaineers attempting the east face of Howse Peak on the Icefields Parkway were reported overdue. Parks Canada visitor safety specialists immediately responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment. Based on the assessment of the scene, all three members of the party are presumed to be deceased. The three men, one American and two Europeans, are professional mountain athletes and highly experienced. Parks Canada extends its sincerest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the mountaineers.

Further investigation is underway but recovery efforts are not currently possible due to additional avalanches and dangerous conditions at the scene. Precipitation and strong winds in the forecast will result in a rising avalanche hazard in the area. The east face of Howse Peak is remote and an exceptionally difficult objective, with mixed rock and ice routes requiring advanced alpine mountaineering skills."

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