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Athletes & Explorers

Apr 21, 2019

Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer: How the World Reacted.

On Friday, the world was forced to come to terms with the passing of three climbing pioneers. Perhaps the biggest loss to the outdoor community in decades, respects were paid from around the world.

WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

On Friday, news outlets from around the world reported that three world-class mountaineers who were climbing Alberta’s Howse Peak on Tuesday, April 16th were caught up in a large avalanche, that carried them to their likely deaths. Those mountaineers were 28-year-old Austrian David Lama, 36-year-old American Jess Rosskelley, and 35-year-old Hansjörg Auer.

Loved and admired by many, people from all walks of life have paid their respect. A few of those messages that have been shared on social platforms can be found below.

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David lebte für die Berge und seine Leidenschaft für das Klettern und Bergsteigen hat uns als Familie geprägt und begleitet. Er folgte stets seinem Weg und lebte seinen Traum. Das nun Geschehene werden wir als Teil davon akzeptieren.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Wir bedanken uns für die zahlreichen positiven Worte und Gedanken von nah und fern, und bitten um Verständnis, dass es keine weitere Stellungnahme von uns geben wird. Vielmehr bitten wir David mit seiner Lebensfreude, seiner Tatkräftigkeit und mit Blick Richtung seiner geliebten Berge in Erinnerung zu behalten. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Die Familien von Hansjörg und Jess schließen wir in unsere Gedanken ein⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama⁣⠀ ____________________________________⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ David dedicated his life to the mountains and his passion for climbing and alpinism shaped and accompanied our family. He always followed his own path and lived his dream. We will accept what now happened as a part of that.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ We appreciate the numerous positive words and thoughts from near and far. Please understand that there will be no further comments from our side. We ask you to remember David for his zest for life, his enthusiasm and with a view towards his beloved mountains. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Our thoughts are with Hansjörg’s and Jess‘ family⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama

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I will walk by your side forever.

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We all go to the mountains because there is some innate part of being human that seeks challenge and there is endless challenge to be found in our wild places. I’ve always seen mountains as a blank canvas that lets me be an artist by choosing my unique path when amongst them. It’s freedom in its purest and most simple form. But, like many things in life, what you originally set out to do isn’t always where you end up. It’s the unexpected adventures along the way that create the true magic. There’s so much more to this passion than just the climb or the ski, there are the human connections created along this journey that have been some of the deepest and most profound friendships of my life. There is also tragedy. The mountains are both majestic and fierce. They give so much and they take so much. It is with profound sadness, frustration and even anger that this week we have lost so much passion, kindness, ingenuity and unadulterted talent with the passing of these three human beings. *** My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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It hurts to feel the crushing magnitude of losing people you not only really care about, but also that are such iconic figureheads of our community. My heart breaks and I am praying for the direct family members and loved ones involved. Jess was one of the most driven, positive, humble, goofy, and kind friends. He accomplished daunting mountains with a smile and inspiring ability to encourage you to see no limits, too. Despite the magnitude of his accomplishments, he wasn’t “above” anyone. He was a genuine, radical guy and husband to an equally inspiring, kickass woman, @alliroskelley David Lama- who in our direct community doesn’t have a story…? Soft spoken, genuine BADASS. Footsy (@magmidt 😭) It’s been some time since the three of us hung out together but I will never forget how you have always been the number one climber I have looked up to’s career…the childhood prodigy turned all-rounded mountain climbing technician. He was the guy that could probably come back from a long expedition and still fire 5.14’s like he never left the gym. Hansjorg; an Austrian legend, I didn’t know you as personally so well but man, your accomplishments were so damn legendary. It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around this except for the fact that the mountains are at once beautiful and merciless. These guys knew what they were doing in the mountains. They were straight legends. That’s what is terrifying to me. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your resume is: extremely unlucky circumstances can still happen. 💔.

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🖤💫🙏🏻 no words.

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No sabemos ni como empezar este texto, son momentos tan duros que no nos salen ni las palabras. La pérdida de Hansjorg Auer, David Lama y Jess Roskelly es tan grande que nos hemos quedado vacíos. Son tantos los amigos perdidos en la montaña qué se nos encoge el corazón. Muchos ánimos a las familias y amigos. Conocíamos a Hans desde hace mucho tiempo. Le queríamos y admirabamos mucho, era una gran persona , muy entrañable y fuente de inspiración para muchos de nosotros, con el cual tuvimos la suerte de haber compartido mucho tiempo y aventuras. ¡Siempre estarás con nosotros! Tus latín brothers Eneko & iker. We do not know how to start this text, they are such hard moments that we do not even get the words. The loss of Hansjorg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelly is so hard that we are left empty. There are so many lost friends in the mountains that our hearts shrink. Many encouragement to families and friends. We had known Hans for a long time. We loved and admired him very much, he was a great person, very fond and a source of inspiration for many of us, with whom we were fortunate to have shared a lot of time and adventures. ¡You will always be with us! Your latin brothers. Eneko & iker

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Read Next: Hansjörg Auer: No Turning Back

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Athletes & Explorers

Apr 19, 2019

Alpinists David Lama, Jess Rosskelley, and Hansjörg Auer Presumed Dead on Howse Peak

The world-class mountaineers were climbing Alberta’s Howse Peak on Tuesday, April 16th when a large avalanche carried them to their likely deaths.

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WRITTEN BY

Kela Fetters

The mountaineering community mourns the loss of three of its prominent members: 28-year-old Austrian David Lama, 36-year-old American Jess Rosskelley, and 35-year-old Hansjörg Auer. The trio were attempting to summit 3,295-meter Howse Peak by the technical M16 route up its east face on Tuesday, April 16th when they were reportedly ensnared by an avalanche and carried to their deaths.

According to a Parks Canada representative, the father of Jess, John Rosskelley, alerted the Parks Service on Wednesday morning that the party had failed to check-in the previous evening. Banff personnel launched a helicopter search mission that observed avalanche debris containing climbing equipment. In a media release, Parks Canada said that “Based on the assessment of the scene, all three members of the party are presumed to be deceased.” Due to dangerous avalanche conditions and new snow in the forecast, subsequent investigations and body recovery are delayed until an optimal weather window.

Howse Peak above Chepren Lake in summer. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

The team had notched Mount Andromeda in the previous fortnight. Howse Peak was their next objective on the spring expedition in the Canadian Rockies. The M16 route was first climbed in 2000, and it involves advanced technical mountaineering expertise. Lama, Rosskelley, and Hansjörg were members of The North Face’s Global Athlete Team and highly-regarded alpinists with the experience and skills required of the M16 route.

Hansjörg Auer was regarded as one of the world’s most talented free solo climbers; he climbed a 37-pitch, 5.12c route in the Italian Dolomites called “The Fish” sans ropes or safety gear. He once said, “There is only one person you will have to bear for the rest of your life: yourself. That’s why being alone is so difficult. Even in the mountains, and not just because of safety. Being alone strips you naked, it makes you understand who you are, what is your value, the things that matter in life

Read Next: Hansjörg Auer: No Turning Back

Hansjörd Auer during an attempt of Annapurna III in 2016. Photo by Alexander Blümel via Red Bull Content Pool.

David Lama rose to prominence as a teenager with big wins in lead climbing and bouldering competitions. In 2012, he made the first free ascent of the “Compressor Route” on Cerro Torre in Patagonia. Last year, Lama summited Lunag Ri, which until his feat was Himalaya’s highest unclimbed mountain.

David Lama. climbing in Stubai, Austria in 2018. Photo by Manuel Ferrigato via Red Bull Content Pool.

Spokane, Washington native Jess Rosskelley was the youngest person from North America to summit Mt. Everest when he climbed the mountain with his father in 2003 at age 20. His mountaineering career included first ascents in Alaska and Pakistan. He is survived by his wife, Allison.

Jess Rosskelley in the Hypa Zypa Couloir in 2013. Photo by Kristoffer Szilas via Wikimedia Commons.

The tragedy has not been officially confirmed, but John Rosskelley posted this to a friend’s Facebook page on Thursday regarding his son Jess and his teammates:

“As I write this, I know from speaking with the Park Service and rescue personnel yesterday that Jess, David and Hansjorg 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.”

The route that Lama, Rosskelley, and Auer were attempting was first completed by Steve House in 1999. Years later, in 2015, House shared the below Facebook post, referring to one of the “hardest pitches” of his life and asking “#Whositgonnabe”

UPDATE: On Friday, Conrad Anker, who was a good friend to David Lama having climber together for years, tweeted the below message.


The Outdoor Journal will contribute to the prayers and thoughts made to the three young heroes of contemporary alpinism

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