The search for two climbers missing on the Juneau Icefield has ended.
Alaska State Troopers say George “Ryan” Johnson, 34, of Juneau and Marc-Andre Leclerc, 25, of British Columbia are presumed deceased.
Their families have been notified.
Serge Leclerc wrote on Facebook Tuesday evening: “Sadly we have lost 2 really great climber(s) and I lost a son I am very proud of.”
Johnson and Leclerc were reported missing last Wednesday. Poor weather has hampered search efforts over the last week.
During a break in the weather Tuesday, a Coastal Helicopters aircraft with members of Juneau Mountain Rescue on board flew out to the north face of the Mendenhall Towers.
Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said an intact anchor rope was spotted at the top of an ice chute on the fourth tower. Searchers also found other climbing ropes in a crevasse midway down the tower.
“They were able to see some climbing ropes that matched the description of what the climbers used,” Peters said.
Peters said they don’t plan on a recovery operation because of the avalanche danger and other safety hazards.
Peters said searchers were able to home in on the pair’s location after a getting a signal back from a RECCO reflector. Different from avalanche beacons, RECCO reflectors are sometimes built inside helmets, boots or outdoor clothing and can reflect a signal that is transmitted by searchers — even when covered by snow.
“Essentially, if you go under the snow and people are looking for you, they can use this RECCO unit, which different search and rescue entities have,” Peters said. “It’ll get a hit, letting them know you’re in that area.”
Peters said new files were created in a missing persons database in the event the climbers’ remains are discovered later.
Alaska has a lot going on right now.
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- Usually by August, peak fire season has passed. But fire and climate experts say conditions in Southcentral Alaska were nearly perfect for fire this weekend, from the sky to the dry forest floor.
- A 4% rate increase will take place in January. The City and Borough of Juneau has been steadily raising water and wastewater utility rates for more than a decade to raise revenue to fund improvements to aging infrastructure.
- Joe Balash is one of the highest-placed Alaskans in the Trump administration. In a brief phone call, Balash said he’s resigning to pursue another opportunity.
- Including Dunleavy’s vetoes, the budget cut state spending directly controlled by the Legislature by roughly $400 million.