Bodies of world-renowned Austrian mountaineers found in Canada

Climbers’ families react to deaths on Alberta mountain

Climbers’ families react to deaths on Alberta mountain

The bodies of three professional mountain climbers were found Sunday, days after they were presumed dead in an avalanche at Canada's Banff National Park.

Efforts to find the men - American Jess Roskelley and Austrians David Lama and Hansjorg Auer - had been hampered by poor weather and risky conditions.

On Sunday, Parks Canada officials were able to recover the three bodies from the bottom of the 1,000-metre-high east face.

Parks Canada visitor safety manager Brian Webster said the route is considered extremely challenging.

The avalanche hit while the climbers were making their 1,000-metre descent that afternoon, he said.

The teams started the slow work of probing the snow and ice to find the climbers' bodies.

"Anybody involved in an avalanche of that magnitude - it's going to be a bad outcome", Webster told reporters.

"There's no amount of skillset that's going to increase your ability to survive an avalanche like that".

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Roskelley, of Spokane, Washington, made headlines in 2003, after climbing Mount Everest at the age of 20. At the time he was the youngest American to climb the world's highest peak.

Lama, 28, was feted for achieving the first free ascent in 2012 of the Compressor Route of the Cerro Torre, one of the most striking peaks in the Andes. The feat was captured in the 2013 documentary "Cerro Torre - A Snowball's Chance in Hell". He was the first climber to successfully ascend the south face of Nepal's Nilgiri South and the southwest face of Kunyang Chhish East in Pakistan's Karakorum Mountains.

Parks Canada's mountain safety team responded by helicopter and saw signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment, but a further search was put on hold until conditions improved. They were attempting to scale the Canadian national park's Howse Peak, also known as M16.

The east face of Howse Peak is remote and an exceptionally hard climb, with mixed rock and ice routes requiring advanced alpine mountaineering skills, officials said.

Humphries said "Parks Canada strongly recommends that all people out recreating in avalanche terrain ... wear avalanche transceivers and carry avalanche self-rescue gear".

Incident commander Shelley Humphries said during a press conference Monday that members of the RossKelley family confirmed to Parks Canada offiicials they had summited the peak.

Parks Canada visitor safety specialist Stephen Holeczi described the avalanche as a Size 3 - capable of burying a auto or destroying a small wood-framed house.

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