Canadian JP Auclair and Swede Andreas Fransson, two of skiing brightest stars, are dead in a 700-meter avalanche that struck Cerro San Lorenzo in the Andes yesterday. Uninjured were Swedish filmmaker Bjarne Salen and photographer Daniel RÃ¶nnbÃ¤ck, Biobio Chile reported.
The four were in South America working on a collaborative film project called Apogee Skiing. On September 26, Fransson posted the following photo to Twitter, writing, “Our Patagonia adventure just started! I’m so looking forward hanging out with @auclairjp @bjarnesalen @danielronnback for two weeks in the wild! You will probably not hear much from us in a while, but it’s worth keeping your eyes open for #apogeeskiing project which is a collaboration between JP and myself with first webisode dropping later this autumn!”
They reached the village of Balmaceda on Saturday, Biobio Chile says, and headed into the mountains with a guide. On Monday, the party made a satellite call to police, reporting the avalanche and requesting help. The location, though, is a full day’s travel, including 13 hours of climbing, to reach the avalanche site.
Auclair was one of the most influential skiers of his generation, from his days with the New Canadian Air Force to his founding of Armada Skis and the sustainability group Alpine Initiatives. His urban skiing, seen in the Sherpas Cinema clip below, was legendary, and in the last few seasons he’s been actively chasing big mountain descents, including with Fransson, as you can see in this clip from Chamonix.
Auclair’s artistic eye was incredible, too, as you can see in this AJ Square Shooter feature, which appeared here almost exactly a year ago.
While there are many big mountain skiers working today, Andreas Fransson made it legitimate to use the word “extreme” again – his descents all over the globe inspired awe and defied logic. But Fransson was meticulous in his preparation, his skiing, and, most important, deconstructing why he was doing what he was going. He was open-eyed, mindful, and incredibly articulate.
He was also a contributor to AJ, providing a number of probing, insightful pieces about life on the steeps, including an account of losing one of his dear friends to a fall on their descent of New Zealand’s Mt. Cook last year.
You can learn more about Fransson in the terrific video profile, Tempting Fear, as well as reading the following pieces he wrote on AJ: