Officially David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley are still missing. But there is no hope that the three climbers survived the avalanche on the 3,295-meter-high Howse Peak. The still high avalanche danger in the Canadian Rocky Mountains has not yet allowed a recovery. Parks Canada, the national park authority of the Canadian government, has closed the area.
The shock is deep in the mountaineering scene. “Three of the best alpinists in the world lost in one unfortunate accident”, writes US climber Alex Honnold. “The three missing mountaineers were no doubt a great asset of our community,” adds Pakistani top mountaineer Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, who is currently en route on the eight-thousander Makalu in Nepal. “The gap they created can never be bridged.”
The risk is part of it
Despite all the sadness, the climbers agree that Lama, Auer and Roskelley consistently lived their dreams and passion for the mountains and that they were well aware of the risks involved when pushing the limits. “The intensity of the high alpine, guarded by wind and snow and ruled by gravity, is where we find these moments that define us as people,” writes US climber Conrad Anker.
The Italian Simone Moro expresses himself in a similar way. Every climber tries to protect the “precious gift of life”, says Simone: “But man is part of nature, he is not its ruler and creator and accepts from the beginning that skill, experience, tricks and prudence may not be enough to cancel the risks and avoid even the worst. But we can decide whether to exist only to live, or to live trying to make sense of the gift and the luck of having existed.”
“I cannot resist”
Hansjörg Auer’s family and friends quote the climber himself on Facebook. “Climbing and mountaineering on the borderline of possible is a game – a risky game … but one that I cannot live without,” Hansjörg once said. “The game is simple, the rules always the same. The present moment counts for everything. I want to do things that push me. With all my heart or not at all. The more intense it is, the more enriching it is, and the stronger the feeling that I am heading in the right direction.
I do however begin to ponder. Especially when I am injured or after a close call. I think about my friends. I think about what it would be like if one day I didn’t return, if I had to pay the price for the mountains. And yet I cannot resist to take on the challenge time after time. I will never stop searching because what I find fascinates me every time I head out.”