10/01/2014 12:36 EDT | Updated 12/01/2014 05:59 EST

Jean-Philippe Auclair's death 'devastating' for freestyle ski community

Members of the Canadian skiing community say they are "deeply saddened" by the death of Quebec freestyle skier Jean-Philippe Auclair.

Auclair died in an avalanche that struck San Lorenzo Mountain in Patagonia, on the border of Chile and Argentina, on Monday. National Geographic's Carl Andreas Fransson, originally from Sweden, also died. 

Auclair was a new father of a son born last spring.

Thomas Rinfret directs freestyle ski videos and was a friend of Auclair's, or JP, as his friends called him.

Rinfret said Auclair was a "pioneer."

"JP was an icon for the free-skiing community. He was there from the very beginning of the sport. One of the guys who made it possible for this sport to be an Olympic sport," he said.

"It's definitely shocking, the news of JP being caught in an avalanche. It was devastating for the whole ski community."

Rinfret said Auclair was an expert skier who knew that the mountain could not be controlled.

"He knew exactly what he was doing. The avalanche — you can't control everything and unfortunately he got caught and what can you do?"

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association acknowledged Auclair's death on its Facebook page:

"The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association is shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of JP Auclair. He was a legendary skier and his significant presence in the sport will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this very difficult time," it stated.

Local crews were studying the terrain of the mountain on Wednesday to prepare to retrieve the bodies.

Authorities said the harsh elements were making the recovery mission a challenge, but they expected to be able to retrieve the bodies by Wednesday afternoon.