The North Face climbers David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer are presumed dead after an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies.
While the whole world had their eyes on Everest2019, horrible news surfaced from Canada. The North Face climbers David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer were reported missing earlier this week on 16 April. Reports of an avalanche raised the question of whether this was the cause of their disappearance.
The North Face released a statement on their Facebook page on 18 April, noting that the trio had gone missing on 16 April.
We have learned that three members of our Global Athlete Team David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer were presumed caught in an avalanche on April 16th in Alberta, Canada. – The North Face
Lama, Roskelley and Auer were climbing in Banff National Park located in Alberta Canada. The three climbers were members of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team, and they were attempting to climb the East Face of Howse Peak via the M16 route. Up to now, this route has only been climbed once.
Early on Friday, 19 April 2019, most media outlets reported that all three climbers were presumed dead. An avalanche has been cited as the cause. However, The North Face has yet to officially state that the climbers are dead. In their last statement, they said:
They are missing and we are waiting for additional information as the search mission continues. –The North Face
A report by Merrit Kennedy of NPR News cited that National Park officials believe all three men are dead, which the Banff National Park later tweeted.
About David Lama
David Lama was just 28-years-old, but he made a big impact in the climbing community early on in his life. When he was just 12-years old, he completed an 8b+, which is a very difficult climbing grade for even adults. He was the subject of the film Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell for his free ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Cerro Torre in Patagonia.
About Jess Roskelley
Jess Roskelley called Washington State home, a place known for producing some of the best climbers in the world. At age 20, Roskelley won the heart of America in 2003 when he became the youngest American to summit Mount Everest, which he did alongside his father. He died at age 36.
About Hansjörg Auer
Hansjörg Auer was 35-years-old and an Austria native. Outside Magazine labeled him an expert soloist in a recent article:
He was one of the world’s top solo climbers, having free soloed the 37-pitch Fish Route on the south face of Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites (to name just one of his many ropeless climbs). –Chris Van Leuven, Outside Magazine
Avalanches are a known risk of climbing anywhere in the world. This year the world lost another beloved soloist, who was at home in the Dolomites just like Hansjörg Auer. Tom Ballard died on an expedition on Nanga Parbat with Daniele Nardi in late April/early March.
Ballard was the son of famed climber Alison Hargreaves and was a rising star. Reports of avalanches were also cited as the cause of the duo’s death.
In late 2017, an avalanche was the cause of Alberto Zerain’s death on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan as well.
Remembering The North Face Climbers
Since the disappearance of David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer, the world has responded with many tributes and statements.
Famous climber and director Jimmy Chin stated:
“Finding the light through the dark today as our mountain tribe lost some beloved members of the family. You will be deeply missed.” –Jimmy Chin
The American Alpine Club noted in a Facebook post that:
David Lama, Jess Roskelly, and Hansjoerg Auer were among the best—each an incredible mountaineer, partner, and friend who enriched our community immeasurably. –The American Alpine Club
Base Camp Magazine sends their heartfelt condolences to the families of David Lama, Jess Roskelley, and Hansjoerg Auer. We will continue to follow this story.
Flynn, Meagan. “Three of the World’s Most Elite Mountain Climbers Presumed Dead after Avalanche in the Canadian Rockies.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 19 Apr. 2019.
Kennedy, Merrit. “3 Top Climbers Presumed Dead After Avalanche In Canada.” NPR, NPR, 19 Apr. 2019.
Leuven, Chris Van. “An Avalanche in Canada Has Reportedly Killed Three Top Alpinists.” Outside Online, Outside Magazine, 19 Apr. 2019.
Miller, Ryan W. “Trio of North Face Climbers Presumed Dead in Avalanche at Canada’s Banff Park.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 19 Apr. 2019.
Editors, The. “Friends Remember David Lama, Jess Roskelley, and Hansjörg Auer.” Outside Online, Outside Magazine, 19 Apr. 2019.
Doherty, Brennan. “Former Everest Record-Holder among Three Mountaineers Presumed Dead after Multiple Banff Avalanches.” Thestar.com, 18 Apr. 2019.