Family of Famed Climber Speaks Out After Trio Dies in Avalanche: He 'Died Doing What He Lived For'
The bodies of David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer — members of North Face's Global Athlete Team — were found Sunday at Canada's Banff National Park
The bodies of three renowned climbers have been found in Canada’s Banff National Park days after the trio vanished in an avalanche last week, reports say.
David Lama, 28, Jess Roskelley, 36, and Hansjörg Auer, 35, — members of North Face’s Global Athlete Team — had been missing and presumed dead since they were caught in an avalanche last Tuesday while attempting to climb the difficult east face of Howse Peak in Alberta, Canada, according to North Face and CNN.
After days of searching, the three men — one American and two Austrians — were found dead in an avalanche field, the Spokesman-Review reported. Chelsey Dawes, a spokeswoman with Parks Canada, confirmed the news to PEOPLE in a statement.
“Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones,” the statement reads.
“We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities. Our thoughts are with families, friends and all those who have been affected by this tragic incident.”
The men were reported missing last Wednesday and authorities searched for them via air, seeing “signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment,” according to CNN. Dawes told the site that it looked like a size 3 avalanche struck the area.
North Face released a statement describing the climbers as “valued and loved members of The North Face family.”
“We are doing everything we can to support their families, friends and community during this difficult time,” the statement continues. “We ask that you keep our athletes and their loved ones in your hearts and thoughts.”
Roskelley famously climbed Mt. Everest at just 20 years old in 2003. He was the youngest American to ever do so at the time. His father, John Roskelley, is also a renowned climber. John told the Los Angeles Times that he had successfully climbed Howse Peak, a 10,810-foot climb, in the 1970s.
His sister Jordan Roskelley, 29, remembered her brother in an interview with NBC News.
“My brother died doing what he loved, what he lived for,” she said.
The family also released a statement on Roskelley’s Instagram page Sunday, sharing a photo of the men together, writing that Roskelley was excited to climb with Lama and Auer. In the caption, the family included a moving quote from the late climber.
“Mountains help me navigate what is most important to me,” Roskelley said. “They balance the chaos that is regular life. Balance is what I strive to accomplish in climbing – a balance of life, love and mountains. Alpine climbing is a life-long commitment. I live and breathe it.”
Lama has been captivating famed climbers since he was just five years old, according to CNN. And in 2013, appeared in Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell, a documentary about his attempt to free-climb the southeast face of Cerro Torre.
In a tribute post on his Instagram account, Lama’s family asked the public to remember his “zest for life.”
“David dedicated his life to the mountains and his passion for climbing and alpinism shaped and accompanied our family,” they wrote. “He always followed his own path and lived his dream. We will accept what now happened as a part of that.”
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A moving post appeared on Auer’s Instagram page, showing the smiling athlete standing next to a tent.
“Climbing and mountaineering on the borderline of possible is a game – a risky game… but one that I cannot live without. The game is simple, the rules always the same. The present moment counts for everything,” the caption read. “I want to do things that push me. With all my heart or not at all. The more intense it is, the more enriching it is, and the stronger the feeling that I am heading in the right direction.”