CANMORE, Alberta – The international climbing community mourned missing alpinist Jess Roskelley of Spokane and two partners who are also presumed dead following a series of avalanches that cascaded down a rugged peak the men were scaling in the Canadian Rockies.
While tributes, donations and memories poured in, bad weather kept Parks Canada officials from conducting search and recovery efforts.
Roskelley, 36, and Austrian climbers David Lama, 28, and Hansjörg Auer, 35, were world-class mountaineers who formed a team to attempt a difficult climb on Howse Peak in Banff National Park.
The climbers were supposed to check in Tuesday but never did. A helicopter crew spotted avalanche debris and climbing gear on Wednesday.
Following news of the accident Thursday, The North Face, the outdoor gear company that sponsored all three climbers, dedicated the homepage of its website to the men.
A story collecting remembrances from friends and fellow climbers was the lead on Outside Magazine’s website.
Climber and Montana resident Conrad Anker posted a remembrance alongside photos of all three men on Instagram.
“The intensity of the high alpine, guarded by wind and snow and ruled by gravity, is where we find these moments that define us as people,” Anker wrote. “It is never easy to lose loved ones, particularly those with so much life to live.”
Adventure photographer and climber Jimmy Chin said in an Instagram post, “Finding the light through the dark today as our mountain tribe lost some beloved members of the family.”
Meanwhile, several Spokane-area climbers and friends of the Roskelleys traveled to Canada to offer support.
By Friday evening a GoFundMe page had raised $7,500 to “help Jess’ wife Allison and the family fund the rescue efforts and any other needs during this time.”
John Roskelley, Jess’ father, met Friday with Parks Canada staff. Although he’d originally hoped to go into the area near Howse Peak, he said the park won’t allow that. The area remains closed to the public.
“I don’t think we will get in,” he said. “They have it really locked down.”
Instead, the rescue team that the park normally works with will wait until the weather and avalanche conditions improve. Roskelley said he agrees with the decision and said Parks Canada has been helpful and considerate.
He said the family continues to hold onto the remote possibility that a member of the climbing team may have survived.
“You just never know,” he said.
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