Renowned Alpinists Confirmed Dead in Canadian Avalanche

Rescue personnel confirmed on Sunday that American climber Jess Roskelley and Austrian alpinists David Lama and Hansjörg Auer perished in an avalanche.

An avalanche caught the trio while they climbed Howse Peak in Alberta’s Banff National Park. Officials presumed the climbers dead after aerial reconnaissance of the slide but could not reach them until Sunday.

Lama, Auer, and Roskelley were professional climbers and part of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team.

Alpinists David Lama, Hansjörg Auer, and Jess Roskelley Feared Dead in Canadian Avalanche
Alpinists David Lama, Hansjörg Auer, and Jess Roskelley Feared Dead in Canadian Avalanche

David Lama and Hansjörg Auer have been reported missing after an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies, according to early reports from Austrian newspaper Tiroler Tageszeitung. Read more…

“They are valued and loved members of The North Face family,” The North Face said in a statement. “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.”

World-Class Climbers

Lama, Auer, and Roskelley were among the best climbers in the world.

Roskelley, 36, was the youngest American to reach the summit of Everest in 2003. He was just 20 years old at the time and completed the climb with his father, the famed alpinist John Roskelley.

David Lama Climbs Lunag Ri Solo
David Lama during his solo climb of Lunag Ri

Best known for his successful free climb of the Compressor Route up Cerro Torre, many peers consider Lama one of the best alpinists of his generation.

Many touted Lama’s ascent of Lunag Ri, Nepal’s tallest unclimbed peak, the top mountaineering achievement of 2018. In 2016, Lama and Auer attempted the southeast ridge of Annapurna III. Rumors swirled that the pair were planning to attempt it again this year.

GearJunkie founder Stephen Regenold recently spent a day ski mountaineering in Colorado with Lama. Our condolences to the athletes’ friends and families.

Sean McCoy

Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.