Home > News

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and Jess Roskelley Presumed Dead

Earlier today, we reported that American Jess Roskelley and Austrians Hansjorg Auer and David Lama were missing after an avalanche took place on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies. They were attempting to climb M16, a difficult route on Howse Peak about 125 kilometres north of Banff, when the large avalanche swept down the mountain.

Canadian authorities searched the area with a helicopter on Wednesday and found “signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.” The three alpinists have been presumed dead. “The pain that is felt is indescribable,” wrote the Basque pro climbers and brothers Eneko and Iker Pou in a tweet.

Other top climbers took to Instagram to express sorrow, including Nico Favresse.

Hansjorg Auer, 35, grew up and was currently based in Austria. He was known for bold solos and multi-day ascents of Himalayan routes. He once free-soloed the 37-pitch Fish Route 5.13 on the south face of Marmolada in the Italian Dolomites.

Auer made the first ascent of the north face of Gimmigela East (7,005 m) and the southwest face of Kunyang Chhish East (7,400 m). Auer spent some of his winter establishing hard mixed routes near his home in Austria, including, Gegenwind.

▲ Ice Climbing ▲ Tried this line already four years ago but just back from a knee injury things were not feeling right. This year I came back with Alex Blümel. Intense day of establishing the first two out of three pitches. Climbed the line a week later, accompanied by Tobi Holzknecht. Three pitches long climb to the left of this years superfat “Rätselburg“. • “Gegenwind“ (90m, WI5+, M8) offers some great climbing protected by gear and some medium-quality pitons and bird beaks. Check my Stories for more photos. • #NeverStopExploring #IceClimbing #FutureLight • ?: “Gegenwind” (90m, WI5+, M8) ?: @LukasEnnemoser ? Supported by: @thenorthface @garminoutdoor @lasportivagram @komperdell @oetztal.official @smithoptics @team_edelrid @thenorthfacede @totemcams

A post shared by Hansjörg Auer (@hansjoergauer) on

Jess Roskelley, 36, from Washington, was the son of famed American climber John Roskelley. When Jess was 20, he became one of the youngest people at the time to climb Everest on a trip with his dad. In 2017, Jess made the first ascent of the massive South Ridge Traverse VI with Clint Helander.

Also in 2017, Roskelley made the first ascent of Ragged Man, a 500-metre WI5 M5 5.9 and had climbed many of the Canadian Rockies most serious ice routes over the years. “They balance the chaos that is regular life,” said Roskelley.

“Balance is what I strive to accomplish with climbing – a balance of life, love and mountains. Alpine climbing is a life long activity. I live and breathe it.”

David Lama’s father was a mountain guide in Nepal and his mother was from Austria. He rose to fame in the climbing world when he became the youngest person to compete at the world cup at 15 and the first to win both a lead and the bouldering world cup in his first season. When he was only five years old when he took part in a climbing camp put on by Himalayan veteran Peter Habeler.

In 2012, Lama made the first free ascent of the Compressor Route of Cerro Torre with Peter Ortner. The climb was featured in the film A Snowball Chance in Hell. In 2018, Lama made the first ascent of Lunag Ri in Nepal on his third attempt. He climbed the west pillar solo after having tried previously with Conrad Anker.

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

A post shared by David Lama (@davidlama_official) on

Lama, Auer and Roskelley are considered three of the best alpine climbers in the world. They had just climbed Andromeda Strain, a serious alpine route on Mount Andromeda in the Rockies, and had other big routes planned.

John Roskelley spoke to Spokesman-Review and said, “When you’re climbing mountains, danger is not too far away. It’s terrible for my wife and I. But it’s even worse for his wife (Allison). I think it’s really important to say that he was just totally in love with his wife.”

John talked about M16 and his conversation with Jess and told the Spokesman-Review, “This route they were trying to do was first done in 2000. It’s just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare. This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare.”

This is one of the most tragic days in the world of alpine climbing and our condolences go to Lama, Auer and Roskelley’s family and friends.

Hansjorg Auer sits next to Jess Roskelley with David Lama behind at a Canmore event on April 11. Photo Brandon Pullan

Check out the latest buyer's guide:

Warm Belay Jackets For Cold Weather Climbing

You'll want to make sure that you have a warm puffy as we head into winter. Here are some great choices