David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley Missing in Avalanche

Climbing Mountain
Hansjörg Auer and David Lama high up on the South East ridge of Annapurna III in 2016. Photo: Red Bull/David Lama

Three of the world’s most talented alpinists, Austrians David Lama and Hansjörg Auer, and American Jess Roskelley are missing and feared dead following a huge avalanche on Howse Peak (3,295m) in the Canadian Rockies.

The trio are believed to have been hit by the avalanche on April 17 while climbing a route called M16, first put up by Barry Blanchard, Scott Backes and Steve House in 1999.

Roskelley’s father John, a leading mountaineer of his own generation, alerted rescue services when his son didn’t call as expected yesterday evening. A search helicopter spotted avalanche debris, climbing gear and one partially buried body.

Writing on social media, Roskelley said that the trio are presumed dead: “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.”

Roskelley, who himself climbed Howse Peak in the 1970s, continued: “It’s in an area above a basin. There must have been a lot of snow that came down and got them off the face…It’s just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare. This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare.”

Thirty-six-year old Jess Roskelley in 2017. Photo: Ben Herndon

Thirty-five-year old Auer and 28-year-old Lama headed out to the Rockies in early April. In the last 10 days, alongside Roskelley, the Austrian pair climbed a hard route on the Northeast Face of Mount Andromeda.

Avalanche conditions have been high in the Canadian Rockies this spring, with many locals staying out of the backcountry during what is usually a safer time of year. However, conditions in that area were moderate at the time of the accident.

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is a full-time PhD Exercise Scientist from the UK. Outside of work Ash is an outdoor and adventure writer who has written for Rock and Ice, Outside, Red Bull, The Telegraph, Financial Times, UK Climbing etc. In 2018 he led a 640km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia.
See more at www.ashrouten.com or contact him via ash@explorersweb.com

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4 Comments on "David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley Missing in Avalanche"

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David E P dennis

This is very sad. I wonder if the ratio of accidents to successes is increasing because we hear far more about the bad than the good. You will know.

Dave @ Accidental FIRE

This is devastating.

Donald trump

What a pity. I feel sadness and wonder about the macabre nature of following extreme climbers blogs and so on after the winter seasons lately. I was a fan of Mr. Lama and watched his videos with my kids. RIP I cant believe the news today…

eddy de wilde

Thanks to you Ash I just got the news. I’m in shock, so much talent and combined experience , terrible.