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Two Pro Skiers Killed in Patagonian Avalanche

JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson were caught in an avalanche on South America’s Mount Cochrane on Monday, September 29, 2014.

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According to a report on Chilean news site BioBioChile, professional skiers J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson were killed in an avalanche on Mount San Lorenzo (also known as Mount Cochrane), in a remote Patagonian region between Chile and Argentina on Monday, September 29, 2014.

Armada Skis, which Auclair co-founded and which is also Auclair’s ski sponsor, released a statement. “When we first received news that JP Auclair and Andreas Fransson were caught in an avalanche while climbing in Patagonia, we held out hope,” reads the statement. “We can now speak with certainty about one of the most difficult things to acknowledge—the loss of two incredible human beings. Our thoughts and prayers are with J.P. and Andreas’ families.”

This is the latest of several recent mountaineering accidents since that have already claimed the lives of three high-profile mountain athletes. Ski-mountaineers Sebastian Haag and Andrea Zambaldi died on September 24 in an avalanche in Nepal, and snowboard-mountaineer Liz Daley died in an avalanche in Argentina on September 29, the same day as the incident involving Auclair and Fransson but in a different part of Patagonia.

The two professional skiers had traveled to Patagonia to work on a project called Apogee Skiing, as Fransson mentioned on his Instagram account and Auclair on Facebook. The Swedish Fransson and Canadian Auclair were trekking up Mount San Lorenzo with two other Swedes, Bjarne Salen and Daniel Ronnbak, who survived the slide. Officials received a call for help from the party via satellite phone on Monday. As BioBio reported, the avalanche was 700-meters long and located more than 20 hours from the nearest city.

Fransson, 31, a Sweden-born pro skier based in Chamonix, France, has numerous ski first descents around the world. He is a ski instructor, ski guide, former member of the Swedish ski instructor demo team, and well-respected ski-mountaineer. In Skiing’s various interactions with Fransson, we found him to be personable, humble, and always willing to share his hard-won knowledge of ski-mountaineering and backcountry skiing.

Auclair, a native of Quebec, was an early innovator of modern freestyle skiing and later, one of the sport’s revered elder statesman. He was also cofounder of Alpine Initiatives, a nonprofit with the stated mission of engaging “the snow sports community in sustainable initiatives that connect people and planet.”

Alpine Initiatives executive director Jen Johnson released this statement late Tuesday: “JP was our friend and leader, and truly a light in each one of our lives. He inspired all of us to do more, not less, to make this world a better place and we will forever continue to promote and live that ideal. We are enduringly grateful for the immeasurable impact JP had on the entirety of the winter sports world. Our thoughts and love go out to JP & Andreas, their families, friends, and fans.”

Auclair’s family, according to statements from Alpine Initiatives and Armada, is directing those who want to help or express sympathy to make donations to the Auclair Fund, or to support J.P.’s passion for Alpine Initiatives

Here’s is Auclair’s well known “street segment” from the ski film All.I.Can, by Sherpas Cinema:

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

Here’s a Salomon Freeski TV episode featuring Fransson:

Salomon Freeski TV S6 E07 – Tempting Fear from Salomon Freeski on Vimeo.