An American and two Austrians are missing after an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies and rescuers have "assumed the worst," the climbers' sponsor company has said. All three men were highly experienced mountaineers.
A trio of well known mountaineers was apparently caught in avalanche while trying to scale remote Howse Peak in Western Alberta, Canadian officials said on Thursday. The missing party includes Austrians Hansjörg Auer and David Lama, as well as US climber Jess Roskelley.
All three were members of the Global Athlete Team, a group sponsored by The North Face apparel company.
"They are missing, and local search and rescue has assumed the worst," the company said.
Canadian officials deployed rescue helicopters to the isolated area of the Canadian Rockies after the group was reported overdue on Wednesday.
Rescuers spotted signs of "multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment" during the search.
There was "strong evidence that the climbing party was deceased," safety specialist Stephen Holecz told reporters.
Further rescue efforts were put on hold due to bad weather and the risk of new avalanches.
The father of the missing US mountaineer Jess Roskelley, who is also a world renowned climber, said it was unlikely that the group survived.
"It's just one of those routes where you have to have the right conditions or it turns into a nightmare," John Roskelley told the US Spokesman-Review daily.
"This is one of those trips where it turned into a nightmare."
The older Roskelley climbed the Howse Peak in the 1970s, but used a different route. The course attempted by his son and the two Austrians was first completed in 2000, he said.
dj/jm (dpa, AFP, AP)