Spokane climber’s family remembers him for ‘having a heart as big as the mountains he climbed’
SPOKANE, Wash. — Three climbers who are widely regarded as among the best of their generation are being remembered for much more than the peaks they scaled.
Jess Roskelley of Spokane and Austrian climbers David Lama and Hanjörg Auer were killed while climbing Howse Peak, in the Canadian Rockies. An avalanche swept through during their descent.
The Roskelley family issued a statement thanking first responders for their hard work and providing more insight into the lives lost on the mountain.
Here is the full statement from the Roskelley family:
“On the afternoon of April 21, 2019 in Lake Louis, Alberta, the Roskelley family was informed
that the three climbers missing on Howse Peak in the Canadian Rockies – Jess Roskelley, David
Lama and Hanjörg Auer – were recovered at the base of the peak by the Parks Canada search
and rescue team. The avalanche conditions were hazardous to the rescue team, so a specially
trained avalanche dog was used to locate the climbers. We are deeply saddened by the loss of
our loved one and his teammates, but we are very grateful to have received closure. Jess
Roskelley’s phone was recovered, and photos indicate the three climbers had reached the
summit on Tuesday, April 16 at 12:43pm and looked to be in absolute joy. Though we have no
concrete answers, evidence suggests that the team was hit by an avalanche during the descent.
All three men were considered to be some of the best alpinists in the world. Jess felt incredibly
honored to be an athlete on The North Face global team. He had a sense of humor that rivaled
Jim Carey, and a heart as big as the mountains he climbed. His integrity was unparalleled, and
his loyalty to his wife, his family and his climbing partners was unmatched. Jess had a kind soul
and a sense of empathy that was widespread – he frequently hand delivered his unused
climbing jackets and shoes to those in need.
We would like to send our utmost gratitude to the first responders and assisting agencies of
Parks Canada including their Visitor Safety Specialist and the entire Incident Command Team,
Lake Louise RCMP, Lake Louise Fire Department, Bow Valley Victim Services, the skilled pilots of
Alpine Helicopters, and Brooke, the avalanche dog who located the climbers, and her handler.
Additionally, we would like share our appreciation for the climbing community and the myriad
of friends, family and acquaintances who have offered their sincere love and assistance to our
family during this time. We would also like to send our deepest condolences to the families of
David Lama and Hansjörg Auer of Austria. Jess was ecstatic to climb with these two men, who
he looked up to and highly respected.
The way in which Jess felt about climbing is best said in his own words: “Mountains help me
navigate what is most important to me. They balance the chaos that is regular life. Balance is
what I strive to accomplish with climbing – a balance of life, love and mountains. Alpine
climbing is a life-long commitment. I live and breathe it.” – Jess Roskelley.
Jess lived by Ernest Shackleton’s family motto, Fortitudine Vincimus – “by endurance we
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