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American among 3 climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Canada

Banff, Alberta — Outdoor apparel company The North Face said Thursday three members of its Global Athlete Team are presumed dead after an avalanche in Alberta's Banff National Park. The company said renowned American alpinist Jess Roskelley and Austrian climbers David Lama and Hansjörg Auer are missing. 

Roskelley climbed Mount Everest in 2003 at age 20. At the time he was the youngest person to climb the world's highest peak.

Parks Canada said the three men were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Peak on the Icefields Parkway on Wednesday.

Recovery efforts are on hold because of dangerous conditions and additional avalanches at the scene, BBC News reports. Parks Canada said safety specialists immediately responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.

"Parks Canada extends its sincerest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the mountaineers," the agency said on Thursday.

Roskelley's father, John Roskelley, was himself a world-renowned climber who had many notable ascents in Nepal and Pakistan, mostly in the 1970s. John Roskelley joined his son on the successful Everest expedition in 2003.

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Jess Roskelley seen in a photo on The North Face website. The North Face

Jess Roskelley grew up in Spokane, Washington, where his father was a county commissioner. John Roskelley told The Spokesman-Review the route his son and the other climbers were attempting was first done in 2000.

"It's just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare. This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare," John Roskelly said.

John Roskelley had climbed the 10,810-foot Howse Peak, via a different route, in the 1970s and knows the area well. On Thursday he was preparing to go to Canada to gather Jess Roskelley's belongings and see if he could get into the area.

"It's in an area above a basin," he said. "There must have been a lot of snow that came down and got them off the face."

The elder Roskelley said: "When you're climbing mountains, danger is not too far away ... It's terrible for my wife and I. But it's even worse for his wife."

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