March 14 (UPI) — Two missing alpinists in Alaska were presumed dead Wednesday after Alaska State Troopers called off a week-long search.
British Columbia climber Marc-André Leclerc, 25, and Juneau-based climber Ryan Johnson, 34, went missing March 7 while climbing Alaska’s Mendenhall Towers. Alaska State Troopers, the U.S. Coast Guard and Juneau Mountain Rescue coordinated a search party to find the two men over the past week. And on Tuesday, they found climbing equipment belonging to them deep crevasses.
“An intact anchor rope was seen at the top of an ice shoot on the 4th Tower,” troopers said in a statement. “Two climbing ropes were also seen in a crevasse midway down the 4th Tower. The ropes match the description of the gear carried by Johnson and Leclerc. Due to the circumstances, Johnson and Leclerc are presumed deceased. Due to continuing significant avalanche danger and safety hazards, recovery efforts are not feasible at this time.”
Serge Leclerc, Marc-André’s father, posted a message about his son to Facebook.
“Sadly, we have lost two really great climbers and I lost a son I am very proud of,” he wrote. “Marc-André was an amazing, loving man and he has touched many lives in so many ways.”
Both Leclerc and Johnson were well-respected in the climbing community.
Leclerc made a solo ascent of the Corkscrew linkup on Patagonia’s arduous Cerro Torre in 2015.
Johnson was a 2008 recipient of the Mugs Stump Award, a top climbing honor he won for making the first ascent of the West Mendenhall Tower.
Brandon Pullan, editor of climbing magazine Gripped, described Leclerc as one of his “climbing heroes.”
“He was a visionary Canadian climber who pushed limits on rock, ice and in the alpine,” Pullan wrote, adding: “He was a meticulous climber and if you’d ever met him, you’d know that he went climbing because he really did just love it so much.”