Three mountaineers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park, Parks Canada

Avalanche in Banff National Park; three climbers presumed dead

Stephen Holeczi, a visitor safety specialist at the site, told the paper he believes a Size 3 avalanche, packing about 1,000 tons snow, ice and rocks - with the potential to bury a vehicle, destroy a small building or break trees - occurred at the site.

Visitor safety specialists then responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment on the Icefields Parkway, where the peak is located, park officials said.

Barry Blanchard, a mountain guide in nearby Canmore, said he talked to Roskelley when the three climbers arrived in the area about a week ago. He and his son would climb numerous mountains together before Jess began carving out his own career, often in treacherous, life-threatening conditions.

The North Face identified the men as David Lama and Hansjoerg Auer from Austria, and Jess Roskelley, from the US.

Yesterday the father of Jess, renowned alpinist John Roskelley, posted on Facebook "As I write this, I know from speaking with the Park Service and rescue personnel yesterday that Jess, David and Hansjorg are presumed dead".

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Parks Canada said in a statement the party was attempting the east face of Howse Peak. The three professional climbers are members of the North Face Global Athlete Team.

Roskelley climbed Mount Everest in 2003 at age 20.

The older Roskelley climbed the Howse Peak in the 1970s, but used a different route. Rain and strong winds in the forecast are expected to make conditions worse.

"He is a relatively reserved guy who wasn't somebody looking to play his achievements out to the media", Routen said.

Howse Peak, with a 3,295 metre (10,800 foot) elevation, is in the Canadian province of Alberta. Just last fall, he told the Spokesman-Review he believed he was nearly there, with his sights set on challenging peaks in Alaska and Pakistan.

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"They are valued and loved members of The North Face family", The North Face said in a statement to 660 NEWS.

The North Face says it is doing what it can to support the climbers' families and friends. "When you're climbing mountains, danger is not too far away".

Lama made the first free ascent of the southeast ridge of Cerro Torre in Patagonia, which was documented in a film called Cerro Torre: A Snowball's Chance in Hell.

Earlier, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Lama and Auer had "shaped the worldwide climbing and alpinist scene in recent years with many achievements".

"It's in an area above a basin", he said.

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