Three well-known mountaineers from Austria and the USA were probably killed in an avalanche in Canada. Rescue workers found only parts of their equipment.
In an avalanche accident in Canada, three well-known mountaineers from Austria and the USA were probably killed. The “very experienced” mountaineers were in the province of Alberta on the Howse Pass, said the National Park Administration. Rescue workers found signs of numerous avalanches and climbing equipment in the area. It must be assumed that the three climbers are dead.
Rescue mission had to be put on halt
According to media reports, the men are the Austrians Hansjörg Auer and David Lama and the US mountaineer Jess Roskelley. They were part of a North Face-backed team, as the company confirmed. The rescue operation had to be interrupted in the meantime because of bad weather and the danger of further avalanches. The Austrian Foreign Ministry initially did not confirm the death of the alpinists.
Roskelley’s father, John Roskelley, told the US newspaper Spokesman Review that he fears that his son is dead. “The route he wanted to go was first mastered in 2000,” said Roskelley, who was once considered one of the best US mountaineers. “It’s one of those routes where the conditions have to be perfect, otherwise it’ll be a nightmare. That’s what happened.”
Climbers celebrated numerous successes
Roskelley had climbed Mount Everest with his son in 2003. Jess Roskelley was 20 years old and the youngest mountaineer to conquer the highest mountain in the world.
The 28-year-old Lama was considered an exceptional talent of the mountaineering and climbing scene. One of his greatest successes was the first ascent of the compressor route at Cerro Torre with his compatriot Peter Ortner in the free climbing style in 2012. Last autumn, he was the first to climb the 6,895 -meter-high Lunag Ri in Nepal on the west pillar single-handedly.
The 35-year-old Auer was best known for his free-solo climbing tours. Here, a climbing route is done alone, waiving technical aids and security. In April 2017, Auer had climbed the 1,220-meter long route “Weg durch den Fisch” (“Path through the Fish”) in the Dolomites in this way.
Mountaineering Legend Reinhold Messner is deeply affected
Mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner showed himself deeply affected by the probable death of Tyrolean mountaineers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer and their US teammate Jess Roskelley. “It’s a very bad accident, terrible,” said Messner in an interview with the APA. All three of them were among the best mountaineers in the world, the South Tyrolean explained.
He personally knew both Lama and Auer well, Messner said, expressing his deepest sympathy to the relatives. Lama had carried his “climbing art” into “large dimensions” and also had a “strong charisma”. Auer, with whom he was in even closer contact, had been “world class in every discipline”. He suspects that in the Rocky Mountains disaster, a piece of the ice wall broke down and ultimately led to the fatal accident.
It’s about luck
The accident shows once again that the traditional mountaineering, in which one goes into the “absolute wilderness” and thereby doing everything himself, is “incredibly dangerous”. “It is then no longer a question of skill, but of luck and misfortune,” said Messner.
Among the world’s best climbers about half of them have deadly accidents – this has been the case always. “Mountaineering in this dimension is fascinating. But it is also difficult to justify”, Messner said thoughtfully.