Yesterday the bodies of all three climbers were recovered from the avalanche site below Howse Peak. Parks Canada is reporting that the avalanche was a Size 3, meaning moderate mass, coverage, and power, though some reports show these are, statistically, the most dangerous avalanche conditions.
Roskelley’s family made the following statement after the bodies were found:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our loved one and his teammates, but we are very grateful to have received closure. Jess Roskelley’s phone was recovered, and photos indicate the three climbers had reached the summit on Tuesday, April 16 at 12:43 pm and looked to be in absolute joy.”
Distressing news out of Canada this week as alpinists David Lama, Jess Roskelley, and Hansjörg Auer are missing and feared dead after a massive avalanche roared through an area they were climbing. The trio was attempting to climb the M16 route on 10,810-foot Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park.
When they failed to check in on Tuesday, Roskelley’s father John, himself a respected alpinist, alerted park authorities who searched the area by helicopter on Wednesday. They spotted, according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, “avalanche debris, climbing gear, and one partially buried body.”
John Roskelley does not believe any members of the party could have survived.
According to Rock and Ice Magazine, Roskelley wrote on climber John Long’s Facebook page: “As I write this, I know from speaking with the Park Service and rescue personnel yesterday that Jess, David and Hansjörg are presumed dead. It is with a heavy heart I have to say this, but they were hit by a massive avalanche off Mt. Howse sometime on Tuesday and there was visible evidence they perished. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.”
“It’s just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare,” he told the Spokesman-Review. “This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare.”
Jess Rosskelley, 36, was the youngest American ever to summit Everest when he climbed it with his father back in 2003. Lama, 28, summited Nepal’s Lunag Ri last year, the first person ever to do so. Auer, 35, was well-respected for big wall solo climbs.
As of yet, there have been no official confirmations of anything. Though the Canadian news service CBC quotes Parks Canada as saying, “Based on the assessment of the scene, all three members of the party are presumed to be deceased.”
We’ll share more news as it’s made available.