Home > Ice

Ice Climber Goes Missing in Eerie Coincidence

A climber who went missing on the ice climb Polar Circus was on a winter training exercise with the Canadian military. He was caught in an avalanche Thursday night.

Ice climber Mark Salesse, 44, went missing on the ice climb Polar Circus on the 33rd anniversary of the death of John Lauchlan who was killed in an avalanche on the same climb. Lauchlan was swept down the climb while attempting the route’s first solo ascent.

Lauchlan’s death is one of the most well-known tragedies in the Rockies. His name is synonymous with the ice climb Polar Circus.

More on John Lauchlan

Mark Salesse is a Royal Canadian Air Force search and rescue technician from 17 Wing in Winnipeg.

During a routine exercise an avalanche came down Polar Circus. There have been big snow falls and warnings to stay away from snow loaded areas.

Learn About Polar Circus

Parks Canada is co-coordinating the search. Friday’s snow delayed the search for the evening.

On Friday, there were a number of aerial searches, but no sign of the missing climber.

Avalanche Conditions

A snowfall warning has been issued for the area around Polar Circus. “Heavy snow is expected to fall over higher terrain with a further 10 centimetres forecasted by Saturday morning,” says the national weather agency on its website.

Previous Accident

In 2011, Mark Salesse was ice climbing in Ouray and took a fall. “He sustained critical but not life-threatening injuries including a shattered pelvis, hairline fracture in his sacrum, broken ribs, disconnected rib ends in and around the sternum, a punctured rib cage and lacerations above his right eye and on the right side of his body.”

Read the Full Story and More on Mark

Danny Dicerni checks Mark Salesse's harness prior to lowering the ramp of the CC-130   Photo RCAF
Danny Dicerni checks Mark Salesse’s harness prior to lowering the ramp of the CC-130 Photo RCAF

Written by Gripped’s editor Brandon Pullan. Some information sourced from CBC and RCAF.