A trio of professional mountain climbers died in an avalanche at the Banff National Park in Canada last week. The three men, David Lama, Jess Roskelley, and Hansjörg Auer, were attempting a climb on Howse Peak, the tallest mountain in the Waputik Mountain chain in the Canadian Rockies when an avalanche caught them.
As CNN reports, the three, who were all members of the North Face Global Athlete Team, were reported missing after the avalanche and as of Wednesday of last week park officials could not locate them. After scouring the mountain by air and noticing “signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment” the group was presumed dead before their bodies were finally recovered on Sunday.
According to Parks Canada, the group that manages Canada’s national parks, the avalanche was likely a level three, which denotes “dangerous” conditions.
“Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones,” Parks Canada said in a statement. “We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities.”
All three of the men were incredibly experienced climbers with countless successful climbs between them, but the unpredictable nature of an avalanche can leave even the most seasoned professionals at a loss. When one of the climbers failed to call to check in at his scheduled time, Parks Canada launched a search effort to locate them. That’s when they saw the climbing equipment scattered among the newly-piled snow.
Immediate rescue and recovery efforts were hampered by the risk of avalanche and it took a considerable amount of time to recover the men after their gear was spotted in the area.
“We are doing everything we can to support their families, friends and the climbing community during this difficult time,” a spokesperson for The North Face said in a statement. “We ask that you keep our athletes and their loved ones in your hearts and thoughts.”