Trio of world-renowned climbers missing and presumed dead in Banff avalanche

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Trio of world-renowned climbers missing and presumed dead in Banff avalanche

by - 2 min read

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Three world-renowned climbers are missing and presumed to have died in an avalanche in the Rocky Mountains.

Jess Roskelley was, at one point, the youngest person to climb Mount Everest. The American had set out this week to climb Howse Peak in Banff National Park along with Austrian climbers, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer.

The trio was attempting a challenging route up the mountain known as M16, said Eli Francovich, an outdoors reporter with the Spokesman Review newspaper in Spokane, Wash., where Roskelley is from.

“I talked to John Roskelley, Jess’s father, this morning, and he confirmed that Jess was missing, and he thinks he’s dead in an avalanche,” Francovich said.

“Jess was going to check in Tuesday and didn’t, and John called Parks Canada. They sent out a helicopter. They saw an avalanche debris field and one partially buried body.”

Three experienced mountaineers were attempting the east face of Howse Peak in Banff National Park along the Icefields Parkway when they were reported overdue and presumed dead. (Parks Canada)

Parks Canada said in a release issued Thursday that officials had “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 release said.

“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,” the release added.

“The east face of Howse Peak is remote and an exceptionally difficult objective, with mixed rock and ice routes requiring advanced alpine mountaineering skills.”

‘Fixtures of the community’

Francovich described the elder Roskelley as “one of the best alpinists of his generation” and his son as just as accomplished.

John Roskelley also served as a county commissioner in Spokane, and Francovich said the family is well-known and well-loved in the area.

“They’re just fixtures of the community both civically and then also in the outdoor and climbing community,” Francovich said. “They’re very well respected.”

Jess Roskelley is survived by his wife, Allison.

Auer and Lama are well known in the mountaineering world for their ambitious expeditions.

Auer recently completed the first solo ascent of Lupghar Sar West, a remote 7,157-metre summit in Pakistan. And Lam was part of a duo that made the first free ascent of the famous Compressor route on Cerro Torre in Patagonia, along the border between Argentina and Chile.

This story originally appeared on CBC

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