UPDATE, October 3, 2014
J.P. Auclair’s brother, Stephane Auclair, Salomon Sports, and Armada Skis all released statements today regarding the loss of J.P. and Andreas Fransson. Also, Alpine Initiatives, founded by J.P. Auclair, is raising funds to support Auclair’s family—his partner, Ingrid, and son, Leo. To support J.P.’s family, visit the website, AlpineInitiatives.org.
From Stephane Auclair, posted this morning on his Facebook page (translated from the original text, written in French):
Hello all. Here is the news of the day. This was unfortunately another day which the outcome was not one that you wanted… First of all, the helicopter was not available and ready to take off from Perito Moreno (the nearest village of Monte San Lorenzo) early this morning as they had told us. But as the weather was not clement[sic], it has not changed much…
In mid-afternoon, the helicopter was finally able to take off towards the mountain. But when the rescue team arrived on site, they found that it had snowed in the night before, and that other avalanches took place, thus making it impossible to locate the body…
The rescue team will therefore resume its mission tomorrow morning, and a plan B is organized. Continue to think hard about JP, Andreas, and that we can please make the recovery mission a success.
Jean, Ingrid, Jacques, and me will be routed to Argentina next Saturday, and will be on the spot Monday morning, to meet the cameramen, Andreas’ family, and, I hope, to meet JP, and a bit of peace, if everything goes well by then…
In addition to Ingrid Sirois, Jean Auclair, Nadia Lazzari, Jacques, Claire, Geneva, and all our families and friends, I wish to thank especially Rolando Garibotti and Per As, our Italian and Swedish correspondents who gave us the correct time and a clear vision of the workflow, and, despite the fact that they are even more further than we in the South of the Argentina, and that they do so for the sake of their peers and the mountain.
From Armada Skis:
When we first received news that J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson were caught in an avalanche while climbing in Patagonia, we held out hope. 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.
The loss of our co-founder, J.P., in particular, is overwhelming for us. He had an incredible impact on everything he touched. J.P. pioneered and transcended skiing genres and left an indelible mark on the sport. He was a philanthropist, entrepreneur, director and filmmaker, photographer, designer, climber, skater, mountain biker, guide, X Games competitor, member of the New Canadian Air Force, and one of the few non-Japanese citizens to be certified at Kendama. J.P. was our favorite person to be around; he was hilarious and he was kind. Above all, J.P. was a father, a fiancé, a son, a brother, a godfather, a friend, and genuinely magnificent human.
Many people are asking what they can do to help. J.P.'s family would like to see donations directed to support Léo and Ingrid through the Auclair Fund or to the non-profit J.P. started, Alpine Initiatives.
Today, tomorrow and always, J.P.'s legacy will live on. In Ingrid and their son Léo, in skiing, in Alpine Initiatives, in Armada, and in the countless lives that were made better because of him.
Salomon Sports is reeling today at the devastating news that a member of the Salomon family has been killed in an avalanche. Freeskier and mountaineer Andreas Fransson and freeskiing legend, JP Auclair, died in South America on Monday afternoon.
Fransson and Auclair were climbing and skiing on Mount San Lorenzo in a remote and mountainous region of Chile when the avalanche happened. While their bodies are unable to be recovered at this time due to the remote and dangerous area where the accident occurred, both skiers have been confirmed as deceased by authorities.
"Andreas held a special place in the Salomon family," says Bruno Bertrand, Salomon global freeskiing sports marketing manager. "His passion, skill, creativity, and ability to inspire those around him was unmatched. He will be missed dearly."
Andreas chose to live life with full attention to every moment. His approach to life was his biggest achievement, but he also knew that such a high level of commitment to pursuing his dreams took him to wild and often dangerous places. He approached the mountains meticulously, without ego, and had no problem stepping away from objectives which felt unsafe.
An irreplaceable part of the Salomon Mountain Collective, Andreas played a vital role in the research and development of Salomon's premiere backcountry and freeskiing products and most recently helped the brand launch into the mountaineering world. Andreas was one of today’s most prominent extreme skiers and climbers, taking the sport of ski mountaineering to the next level. With a solo first descent of the South Face of Denali in spring 2011, Andreas burst onto the scene in a major way. His harrowing descents from Chamonix to Patagonia to Norway and all across Europe showed that his capabilities in the mountains were nearly unrivaled.
Andreas was a well spoken, thoughtful and articulate person who took calculated risks. Although his skiing accomplishments put him in a very exclusive club, he never saw it that way, and would frequently include most anyone in making plans for a fun ski day.
The Salomon family is rallying support around Fransson and Auclair's teammates, friends and family. We have all been honored to be a part of their lives and want to thank them for being brave enough to chase what made them happy, for sharing their inner and outermost journeys, and for inspiring others to do the same.
UPDATE, October 1, 2014
Two days after an avalanche claimed the lives of J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson on Monte San Lorenzo in Patagonia, their bodies have still not been recovered.
Hans Smith, co-founder of Armada Skis, released this statement today:
“In light of the tragic news that J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson were caught in an avalanche in Patagonia, we have been in close contact with J.P.’s family. Given that no one on the ground has reached J.P. and Andreas’ location (despite media reports to the contrary), J.P.'s family has asked that we do not make any comments. Armada supports the family’s position and will refrain from commenting further at this time.
We ask that you keep J.P., Andreas, and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Also earlier today, Salomon posted a tribute to Fransson on its website, commenting, “Andreas chose to live life with full attention to every moment. He chose to passionately chase those dreams which best fueled his joy and happiness, and he chose to share his life with anyone who cared to pay attention. His approach to life was his biggest achievement, with the only destination being pure joy and the astounding natural beauty of his chosen path. He also knew that such a high level of commitment to pursuing his dreams meant tempting fear, and fate, in wild and often dangerous places. He approached the mountains meticulously, without ego, and had no problem stepping away from objectives which felt unsafe.”
Trey Cook, editor in chief at EpicTV, who is based in Chamonix, France, where Fransson lived, reported more details surrounding the deaths of Auclair and Fransson on his Facebook page Tuesday morning. According to Cook, rescuers and police flew a helicopter over the accident site on Tuesday morning. The helicopter was not able to land because the terrain was so challenging, however, both the pilot and the passenger, Chilean guide and mountaineer Armando Montero, reported that “they had no doubt that both skiers were dead and had probably died immediately,” Cook wrote. “A rescue attempt was therefore called off.”
Cook further reported that because of the side of the mountain where the accident took place, the Argentine government is in charge of recovering the bodies. Captain Álvaro Herrera Vidal of the Carabineros in Cochrane, Chile, confirmed the identities of both Auclair and Fransson.
Bjarne Salen and Daniel Ronnbak, who witnessed the avalanche from a viewpoint across the valley where they were set up to film Auclair and Fransson and helped advise authorities on the location of the accident, are safely off the mountain.
In a separate statement sent to us yesterday, Jen Johnson, executive director of the Alpine Initiatives, a volunteer group founded by Auclair, said, “J.P. was a friend, our 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 J.P. had on the entirety of the winter sports world. Our thoughts and love go out to J.P. and Andreas, their family, friends, and fans.”
BioBio, a Chilean news agency, reported today that professional skiers J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson are confirmed dead after an avalanche slid 700 meters off of Monte San Lorenzo, located on the border between Argentina and Chile in Patagonia.
Salomon and Armada, the sponsors for Fransson and Auclair, respectively, confirmed the reports that both athletes are missing.
BioBio reported that Auclair and Fransson were climbing Monte San Lorenzo with photographers Bjarne Salen and Daniel Ronnbak, both from Sweden. Salen and Ronnbak are unharmed. An emergency call via satellite phone was placed on Monday afternoon notifying authorities of the avalanche and the missing skiers. The group was filming a new project, which according to Fransson’s Facebook page, was a new webisode series called Apogee Skiing.
The region the group was climbing in is very remote and mountainous. BioBio states the location is 18 hours from the nearest city, and a two hour flight just to the base of the trail. A rescue operation takes up to 13 hours to reach the area of the avalanche.
Also known as Mount Cochrane, Monte San Lorenzo stands at 12,159 feet high and encompasses three glaciers.
In an interview with Armada, Auclair said he met Fransson in Chamonix about three or four years ago. “He was excited to share all his knowledge and his approach to skiing he was doing in Chamonix,” Auclair said in the interview. “He had lots to teach me and I had a lot to learn from skiing with him. Ever year, we try to make a bit of time to ski together, but it was always hard with conflicts of schedule and trips. This year, we decided to do something more official and decided to dedicate time to ski together every year.”
This story will be updated as more information comes in.
To read more, here are profiles of J.P. Auclair and Andreas Fransson that recently printed in the magazine: