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Search crews are still looking for two missing climbers, Marc-Andre Leclerc and Ryan Johnson, in and around the Mendenhall Towers outside of Juneau, Alaska. Helicopter flights to the towers resumed Sunday after two days of adverse weather conditions prevented searchers from accessing the area.
A week ago today, March 5, the two men completed what is thought to be a new route on the north face of the Fourth Tower. Leclerc posted a photo to Instagram that day from on or near the summit. They had planned, after descending the tower, to ski out along the West Mendenhall Glacier Trail, checking back in with friends and family no later than Wednesday evening, March 7.
At around 10 P.M. Wednesday, the pair was reported overdue to Alaska State Troopers and a search was initiated.
Thursday, searchers aboard two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters made four flights to the towers. They located the climbers’ skis and some other gear stashed near towers’ base, suggesting the two climbers never made it back to that point on the glacier. Flights were turned back Friday due to weather and remained grounded Saturday.
Juneau Mountain Rescue (JMR), which is aiding in the search, reported on its Facebook page that the towers were searched again from the air on Sunday. Members of JMR aboard an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter looked for signs of travel along the Mendenhall Glacier as well as scanning several possible descent lines on the towers’ south side. After two hours of searching, weather conditions deteriorated, forcing the helicopter to return to base.
An Army National Guard helicopter flew briefly today, according to Megan Peters, spokesperson for Alaska State Troopers. Searchers again looked at the south side of the towers but were unable to go to the north side due to weather conditions. The helicopter was in the air for less than an hour.
Two GoFundMe campaigns have been created for the search efforts. The first campaign will help get Leclerc’s family to Alaska to aid in the search. The second campaign will help fund ground and air search efforts, and aid the family of Ryan Johnson.