Austria fears for climbers missing in Canada

David Lama and Hansjörg Auer have been missing in Alberta’s Banff National Park since Wednesday together with American climber Jess Roskelley. (video grab)
Updated 19 April 2019

Austria fears for climbers missing in Canada

  • Lama and Auer had “shaped the international climbing and alpinist scene in recent years with many achievements.”

BERLIN: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Friday his thoughts are with the friends and families of two of the country’s best-known climbers missing and feared dead in Canada along with an American alpinist following an avalanche.

David Lama and Hansjörg Auer have been missing in Alberta’s Banff National Park since Wednesday together with American climber Jess Roskelley. Their sponsor, outdoor apparel company The North Face, said the three members of its Global Athlete Team are presumed dead.

Kurz said Lama and Auer had “shaped the international climbing and alpinist scene in recent years with many achievements.”

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.”

The son of a Nepalese mountain guide and an Austrian woman, Lama had also won numerous climbing competitions in his younger years before devoting himself full time to mountaineering in 2011.

Auer, 35, became the first person to free solo climb Italy’s Marmolada peak via the south face in 2007.

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

Officials said safety specialists immediately responded by air and observed signs of multiple avalanches and debris containing climbing equipment.

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

His father, John Roskelley, told The Spokesman-Review, that the route his son and the other climbers were attempting was first done in 2000.

In the 2013 documentary, Lama addressed the constant peril extreme climbers are exposed to, insisting that the risks were carefully calculated — more like a game of poker than Russian roulette.

“I think it’s important to be aware of the risks, but in the end there will always be things that are out of our hands,” he said.


Texas court halts execution in high-profile case

A woman holds a sign during a protest against the execution of Rodney Reed on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Bastrop, Texas. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Texas court halts execution in high-profile case

  • Millions of people, including US lawmakers and Hollywood celebrities Kim Kardashian and Susan Sarandon, have signed petitions supporting Reed

WASHINGTON: A Texas appeals court has suspended the execution of convicted murderer Rodney Reed — who has long claimed his innocence — in a case that has attracted widespread public attention and a celebrity-backed campaign.
Reed, a 51-year-old African-American, was sentenced to death in 1998 after being convicted by an all-white jury of the rape and murder of Stacey Stites, a 19-year-old white woman.
His execution by lethal injection had been set for November 20, but Reed says he did not commit the crime, and his lawyers and supporters say that evidence proves he is innocent.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced on Friday that it had “voted unanimously to recommend the governor grant a 120-day reprieve” to Reed, who had appealed for clemency.
The state appeals court then halted the execution later in the evening.
Millions of people, including US lawmakers and Hollywood celebrities Kim Kardashian and Susan Sarandon, have signed petitions supporting Reed.
Kardashian said on social media she was with Reed when he received news about the reprieve.
Although traces of Reed’s DNA were found in the victim, he has always maintained that he and Stites were secretly having an affair.
Reed’s lawyers say that evidence obtained after the trial points to another suspect — the victim’s fiance, Jimmy Fennell, a former policeman who later served a 10-year prison sentence for another rape.
“The strong evidence exonerating Mr.Reed and implicating Fennell continues to mount,” the lawyers wrote in the clemency petition lodged with the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott.
In the clemency request, they included a testimonial from a former co-worker of the victim who confirmed the affair.
According to another affidavit, a former prison inmate said he heard Fennell brag during a prison yard conversation about committing the murder.
Fennell has denied involvement in Stites’ murder.
The Texas board declined Reed’s request to downgrade his sentence.
His lawyers also have filed a petition with the US Supreme Court, seeking a stay of execution.