One week ago today, world-class alpinists Marc-Andre Leclerc and Ryan Johnson climbed a new route to the top of the Mendenhall Towers near Juneau, Alaska.
Update March 13 at 3:30 p.m. MST:
Update March 13 at 9 a.m. MST: Juneau Mountain Rescue was able to fly with the Alaska Army National Guard today. However, the helicopter and crew were only able to briefly search the Mendenhall Towers before weather limited visibility and forced the crew to return to base. The helicopter was then grounded again for the remainder of the day due to foul weather. The Alaska Army National Guard flight crew and Juneau Mountain Rescue are prepared to again resume operations at the first available weather window tomorrow (3/13), and look forward to a more promising forecast. Follow on Facebook here.
They fired off a few text messages because luckily they had cell service from the top. Leclerc even posted a photo on Instagram.
Last Wednesday, the weather had turned from blue skies to snow storms and -30°C at 3,000 metres over night.
Family and friends were put on alert and began to travel to Alaska to offer support. There’s a GoFundMe page here to help support everyone involved.
Over the past few days, the hard working women and men with Juneau Mountain Rescue, state troopers and the coast guard have put in many hours of searching.
The last update from Juneau Mountain Rescue reads, “Juneau Mountain Rescue was able to fly with the Alaska Army National Guard today. The helicopter and crew searched the Mendenhall Glacier for any sign of travel, and searched several possible descent routes on the South side of the Mendenhall Towers.
“Weather conditions deteriorated and the flight returned to base after two hours of searching. The helicopter was then grounded for the remainder of the day due to severe wind shear and winter weather conditions on the ice field. The Alaska Army National Guard flight crew and Juneau Mountain Rescue are prepared to resume air operations at the first available weather window tomorrow morning (March 12).”
Leclerc is from B.C. and has spent much of the past few years living in Squamish, Canmore and Patagonia.
He is one of the world’s leading alpinists with a number of bold free-solos, first winter ascents and sends up El Cap at 5.13+.
Johnson is based in Juneau and has decades of hard climbing behind him. He’d climbed in the Mendenhall Towers area and established new routes.