JP Auclair, Quebec extreme skier, killed in avalanche
Bodies of 37-year-old Quebecer and Swede Andreas Fransson spotted on San Lorenzo Mountain
Quebec extreme skier Jean-Philippe Auclair was found dead after an avalanche that struck San Lorenzo mountain in Patagonia on Monday.
National Geographic's Carl Andreas Fransson, originally of Sweden, was also found dead.
Chilean police officers and members of the armed forces were working to recover their bodies in a joint rescue operation on Wednesday.
Authorities said Fransson and Auclair arrived in the Aysen region of Chile's Patagonia on Thursday along with two other tourists from Sweden. They had been hiking the 3,600-metre mountain and disappeared when a wall of rocks and snow cascaded down, dragging them to a stream in Argentine territory.
The two survivors in the group were treated at a local hospital, and police said they provided information to help locate the bodies.
The regional director of Chile's Emergency Service, Sidi Bravo, said 90 per cent of the people who go missing in the hard-to-reach area are never found. "It was lucky to have found them and to be able to recover them," Bravo said.
Officials said the bodies would be removed by Argentine authorities and were expected to be examined by the forensic medical service in Rio Gallegos, Argentina, before being returned to their homelands.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs issued a written statement saying it is aware of reports indicating that a Canadian citizen may have been affected by an avalanche at Chile-Argentina border. The statement also says Canadian consular officials are in contact with local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance.
Auclair was world renowned in the extreme skiing community. He was featured in this widely acclaimed video produced by Sherpas Cinemas:
Auclair a 'legend'
Quebec slopestyle ski coach Philippe Larose spoke to the CBC on Tuesday while he was waiting for news about Auclair's fate. He described him as a legend who had a big impact on slopestyle skiing.
"He is a really creative person, really imaginative," Larose said. "He always pushed boundaries, not in a risky way but in an artistic way."
Tributes poured in on Twitter.
The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said on Twitter it was "shocked & deeply saddened" by Auclair's sudden death.
"He was a legendary skier & his presence in the sport will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this very difficult time," the organization said.
Olympic gold medallist Jenn Heil was one of several professional athletes expressing their grief online.
"With heavy hearts we say goodbye to (at)AuclairJP You were a bright light who changed the face of skiing. RIP," she wrote.
Last year, CBC's Quebec City morning show spoke to Auclair about his award-winning videos and about being named one National Geographic's adventurers of the year.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press