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 conquer.”