Bodies of Missing Climbers Found on Howse Peak

Cell phone photos show that Jess Roskelley, Hansjörg Auer, and David Lama reached the summit but died on the descent

From left: Jess Roskelley, David Lama, and Hansjörg Auer (Ben Herndon/Tandem; Martin Hanslmayr/Red Bull Content Pool; Hansjorg Auer/Facebook)
Photo: Ben Herndon/Tandem; Martin Hanslmayr/Red Bull Content Pool; Hansjorg Auer/Facebook climbers

On Sunday, April 21, the bodies of American Jess Roskelley and Austrians Hansjörg Auer and David Lama—professional climbers and members of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team—were recovered from avalanche debris at the base of 10,810-foot Howse Peak in Canada’s Banff National Park.

The team was climbing M16, a 3,280-foot route on the east face of the peak that was first climbed in 1999 by Barry Blanchard, Scott Backes, and Steve House. The line is considered one of the most difficult in the area.

According to a report by the Roskelley family: “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.”

After the men were reported overdue on Wednesday, April 17, Parks Canada surveyed the area via helicopter, noting, in a release, “signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.” The avalanche that swept the trio from the face was later classified as a size 3 on Canada’s five-point scale, which means it likely ran for around 3,200 feet and carried 1,100 tons of debris.

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