Published: Fri, April 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Avalanche in Banff National Park; 3 climbers presumed dead

Avalanche in Banff National Park; 3 climbers presumed dead

Parks Canada says three mountaineers are presumed dead after an avalanche in Alberta's Banff National Park.

According to Tiroler Tageszeitung, an Austrian newspaper, professional alpinists Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer are missing in the Canadian Rockies.

Rescuers found signs of several avalanches and debris consistent with climbing equipment, Parks Canada said, leading them to presume that the climbers were dead.

The agency said that further investigation is underway, "but recovery efforts are not now possible due to additional avalanches and risky conditions at the scene".

The area is under a "spring" avalanche forecast, according to Avalanche Canada, which means conditions and risk can vary widely throughout the day depending on on temperature, wind, solar radiation and the aspect and angle of a particular slope.

Barry Blanchard, a mountain guide in nearby Canmore, said he talked to Roskelley when the three climbers arrived in the area about a week ago.

Parks Canada visitor safety specialist Stephen Holeczi said the last known information about the party of three was that they had begun their ascent on Tuesday. "We extend our sincerest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the mountaineers".

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The east face of Howse Peak is "an exceptionally hard objective" and located in a remote area with mixed rock and ice routes, according to the statement.

He said the three men are considered among the top one per cent of alpinists in the world. Gripped is reporting that the climbers were attempting M16 on Howse Peak.

An online biography of Roskelley on The North Face website says he grew up in Washington and spent his childhood adventuring with his family throughout the Pacific Northwest. He shifted his focus to free climbing in 2011.

Climber Hansjörg Auer is shown here at the peak of a solo summit.

In 2003 at age 20, Jess Roskelley was the youngest American to have scaled Everest. "This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare", John Roskelly said.

Parks Canada notes that a significant storm blew into the area late Wednesday.

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