Two experienced mountain climbers who were trying to tackle a new route in Alaska are presumed dead after climbing ropes that matched their gear were found in a crevasse, authorities said on Wednesday.
George “Ryan” Johnson, 34, of Juneau and Marc-Andre Leclerc, 25, of Squamish, British Columbia, were reported missing after they failed to return from their climb on 7 March on a seven-peaked mountain not far from Alaska’s capital city.
Rescuers had to wait until Tuesday for the weather to clear to fly to Mendenhall Towers, a mountain that rises nearly 7,000ft (2,134 meters) over the Juneau Ice Field, about 12 miles (20km) north of Juneau.
They found an intact anchor rope at the top of an ice shoot on one peak and saw two climbing ropes in a crevasse midway down the same peak.
Officials will not be able to recover the bodies right away because of avalanche danger.
Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska state troopers, said it was not clear what went wrong because no one saw what happened.
“We know they made it to the top. We know they set anchor,” she said. “Whether they were taken out by an avalanche, whether their rope failed – I mean, anything could happen.”
During an initial search on Sunday, responders found skis and gear that the climbers left at the bottom of the mountain. Johnson and Leclerc were flown to the site and had planned to ski out to an area where they would be picked up. Searchers left the gear in case the climbers made it down and needed it.
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