SPOKANE, Wash — The bodies recovered near an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies are those of three world-renowned climbers, including Spokane native Jess Roskelley.
On Monday, April 22, Parks Canada officially confirmed the bodies recovered were those of Roskelley and Austrian climbers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer.
Roskelley, Lama and Auer were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak on the Icefields Parkway on April 16. The route is highly technical.
According to Parks Canada, the climbers summited the peak on April 16. They were reported overdue on April 17.
After a multi-day search, their bodies were located by an avalanche dog and handler on Sunday, April 21.
None of the climbers were wearing avalanche transmitters, Parks Canada said.
All three climbers were part of The North Face Global Athlete Team.
Rescue efforts were initially put on hold Friday due to unsafe weather conditions, an incident commander said during a media phone conference on Thursday afternoon.
Officials said they flew over the area and saw climbing equipment. Based on their observations, they believe a Level 3 avalanche hit the area. Avalanches range in intensity from 1 to 4.
A friend of the Roskelley family told KREM that the family learned of the avalanche on Wednesday and that the climbers were presumed dead.
Roskelley's family released a statement following the news:
"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 Carrey, 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.
"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 "
Family friend Paul Fish described Roskelley as an "amazing young man that gave back to the community."
"He died doing what he loved, and this is just so tragic," Fish told KREM.
The North Face released a statement about the avalanche on Thursday.
"We have learned that three members of our Global Athlete Team, David Lama, Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer were presumed caught in an avalanche on April 16th in Alberta, Canada," the statement reads. "They are missing and we are waiting for additional information as the search mission continues. David, Jess, and Hansjörg are valued and loved members of The North Face family and we are doing everything we can to support their families friends and community during this difficult time. We will continue to keep you updated and ask that you keep our athletes and their loved ones in your hearts and thoughts."
In 2016, Roskelley climbed the ice on Palouse Falls. State Parks officials said it was the first time, to their knowledge, that some had completed the feat, but they did not want to encourage it.
Roskelley, the son of mountaineer John Roskelley, is a professional climber who has climbed Mt. Everest.
Roskelley's website lists 27 climbs or attempted climbs across North America, South America and Asia. He has previously served as a climbing guide at Mt. Rainier.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.