UPDATED: The search continues for two missing climbers in Alaska’s Mendenhall Ice Field after an aerial search on Sunday failed to reveal any clues to the pair’s whereabouts.
Earlier this week Alaska State Troopers were notified that Agassiz man Marc-Andre Leclerc and Ryan Johnson of Juneau, Alaska failed to return from a climbing excursion up the Mendenhall Towers. The men were dropped off near the towers March 4 and made it to the top, posting a picture of the view to Instagram March 5.
The pair were expected to return to Juneau no later than Wednesday but state troopers reported a significant snow storm in the area that day. Attempted search efforts by Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) have been underway since, and some of the pair’s gear were located.
Poor weather conditions forced a USCG helicopter to turn back on Friday and a helicopter launch was again halted by weather the following day.
On Sunday an aerial search of the south face of the Mendenhall Towers returned no clues. A search of the north side is scheduled for today, weather permitting.
According to state troopers it appears that neither man is equipped with a SAT phone or emergency beacon.
The pair are reported to be experienced outdoorsmen – Leclerc was profiled by Climbing Magazine in September and his resume includes everything from a 7,000-foot climb of Mt. Slesse to a solo climb up”The Corkscrew linkup” on Cerro Torre, a route in South America that involves crossing icefields and navigating ice towers.
Leclerc’s family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help with search efforts. In two days the campaign has raised over $28,000 to help find the climbers.
“Please help with what ever you can,” reads the page. “We are a connected outdoor community who can. Thank you for caring and making a difference.”
According to the campaign page both of the climbers’ families are in Juneau, searching and strategizing how to find the missing men.