Bodies of three expert climbers swept away in avalanche recovered in Banff National Park
The bodies of three mountaineers who were swept away by an avalanche in Banff National Park have been discovered. Austrian climbers Hansjörg Auer (35), and David Lama (28), and American Jess Roskelley (36) were trying to climb the east face of Howse Peak when the incident took place. The avalanche occurred on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Parks Canada officials "responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment," as reported by CBC.
Looking at the condition, officials had concluded that the three climbers were deceased but a recovery of their bodies wasn't possible due to poor conditions. On Sunday, the bodies of the climbers were recovered and the officials extended their condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones in an official statement.
"Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones. We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities. Our thoughts are with families, friends and all those who have been affected by this tragic incident," the agency said in the statement. All three climbers were professional. In 2003, Roskelley, who was 20 at the time, became the youngest American to climb Mount Everest.
Auer had recently completed his first solo ascent of Lupghar Sar West, which is a 7,157-metre summit in Pakistan and Lama was one of the people to make the first free ascent of the compressor route on Cerro Torre in Patagonia. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also spoke highly about Auer and Lama noting that they had "shaped the international climbing and alpinist scene in recent years with many achievements."
The trio was attempting to climb Howse Peak which has previously been climbed once before. People were quick to take it to social media and express their condolences. "So sad to hear the accident of Hansjörg Auer, David Lama, and Jess Roskelley. 3 of the most cutting edge alpinists of the last years," Kílian Jornet, a professional runner wrote. Even Conrad Anke, an expert rock climber, took to Facebook to express his grieve over the news of their deaths. Conrad reflected on how unexpected life and nature can be.
"We choose to play by the rules of the mountains because they are our calling. We accept the loss that strikes unaware in return for the bonds of friendship created by experiencing life in the majesty of nature. The intensity of the high alpine, guarded by wind and snow and ruled by gravity, is where we find these moments that define us as people. It is never easy to lose loved ones, particularly those with so much life to live," he wrote.
He continued, "My heart goes out to the parents of Hansjörg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelley with the loss of their sons. With empathy for the families, loved ones, friends and our community." Fellow climber Jeff Rasley also sympathized with Jeff's family and for their loss. "I just feel so sad for Jess' family," he said. "The coincidence is, it's really jarring… the warm, wonderful feeling of reliving those memories and then to have it sort of shattered with that news."