'No additional clues' in Juneau search for 2 climbers
Alaska State Troopers say intermittent weekend flights to find two men overdue from a Juneau climbing trip last week have been hampered by poor weather, with nothing further found so far.
Last week, troopers said that some gear from 34-year-old George “Ryan” Johnson of Juneau and 25-year-old Marc-Andrew Leclerc of British Columbia had been found during initial searches near the Mendenhall Towers on Juneau’s Mendenhall Ice Field. The men, both experienced climbers, had been dropped off March 4 to climb the towers, before they were slated to hike and ski back via the West Mendenhall Glacier Trail. They were reported overdue after they didn’t return by Wednesday as planned; troopers have said that they apparently didn't have communications gear with them.
Troopers said Monday that a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was able to fly during a “brief weather window,” but poor weather kept it from reaching the search area. An Army National Guard helicopter planned to fly to the area Saturday was grounded by weather, but was able to make an aerial search of the towers’ south face on Sunday before “having to return due to weather conditions.”
“No additional clues were located,” troopers wrote. “On [Monday], if a weather window presents itself, the Army National Guard helicopter will attempt to reach the north side of the Mendenhall Towers.”
Juneau Mountain Rescue, which has been deploying volunteers on board search helicopters, said on its Facebook page that initial search efforts Thursday found a cache of gear the men hadn't needed to climb the towers, including "skis, poles and a backpack."
Sunday's search efforts included a scan for signs of travel on the glacier as well as southern trails from the towers, but were grounded after about two hours by "severe wind shear and winter weather conditions on the ice field."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist the search and help loved ones of the missing men reach Juneau.
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