Marc-André Leclerc and Ryan Johnson officially presumed dead in Alaska
The two highly talented alpinists Marc-André Leclerc and Ryan Johnson are officially missing and presumed deceased in Alaska. They have not been heard from since their 5 March ascent of the Mendenhall Towers.
An expedition to Alaska has ended in the worst possible way for 25-year-old Canadian Marc-André Leclerc and 34-year-old Ryan Johnson, two highly experienced alpinists reported missing last week in the Mendenhall Towers mountains close to the state capital Juneau. On the 5th of March the two climbers had established a new route on the north face of the Main Tower of the Mendenhall Towers, from where Leclerc even posted a photo on Instagram, but they had not been heard of since then.
Rescue efforts immediately began when they failed to return as agreed last Wednesday, and even though the following day their gear stash with equipment not used for the actual ascent was located, all further rescue efforts were hindered by bad weather. On 13 March another air search revealed two ropes in a crevasse that matched those of Leclerc and Johnson, close to the fourth tower. Yesterday the recovery efforts ceased due to the high risk of avalanches. The news was broken by both Leclerc's father and the Alaska State Troopers who coordinated the rescue attempt.
Needless to say, both Leclerc and Johnson were two expert mountaineers. While Johnson had established a series of difficult new routes especially around Juneau, such as the first ascent of the north face of the West Mendenhall Tower in 2007, Leclerc was recognised as one of the greatest alpinists of his generation. His ascents stand out not only in Canada, but also in Patagonia where after making a traverse of Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, Punta Herron and Cerro Standard in 2015 with Colin Haley, a few months later he made a daring solo ascent of Aguja Standhardt via the routes Tomahawk and Excocet. In 2016 he took things one stage further and made the first winter solo of Torre Egger. In recent times he had spent time climbing some impressive lines in the Slesse Cirque, both with Tom Livingstone and with his partner Brette Harrington.
The death of Marc-André Leclerc and Ryan Johnson has deeply shaken the climbing community, and two crowdfunding appeals were immediately established on GoFundMe to help the respective families with the costs of the rescue operation and also to provide financial support for Johnson’s young son.
- Gofundme Ryan Johnson
- Gofundme Marc-André Leclerc