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3 of World's Best Climbers Missing After Avalanche

Newser — Rob Quinn

Three of the best alpine climbers in the world are missing and presumed dead in an avalanche in Canada's Banff National Park. American climber Jess Roskelley and Austrian climbers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer had been attempting a challenging climb on the east face of Howse Peak.

Parks Canada safety specialist Stephen Holeczi says that after the climbing party was reported overdue Wednesday, a helicopter search found "signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment along with strong evidence that the climbing party was deceased," the Rocky Mountain Outlook reports.

Brandon Pullan, editor-in-chief of Gripped magazine, says the M16 route the men were attempting had only been successfully completed once, in 1999.

Holeczi believes the avalanche was a Size 3 on the scale used by Avalanche Canada, which goes up to 5.

Roskelley, 36, was the son of famed mountaineer John Roskelley, the Calgary Sun reports. At 20, he climbed Mt. Everest with his father and became the youngest American to reach the summit.

"Jess Roskelley was just an all-around, American badass alpine climber with visions on doing these big climbs," Pullan tells the CBC. Auer, he says "was a bit of a different character. He looked at big mountains in the Himalayas—and doing them by himself." And "Lama, he was probably one of the technically strongest solo climbers in the world ... you could call him the biggest rock star in climbing right now."

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