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Recovery of Squamish climbers' remains suspended

Juneau Mountain Rescue announces recovery effort for Squamish's Marc-André Leclerc and Ryan Johnson could be revived if new information comes forward
Photo: Juneau Mountain Rescue Facebook

Juneau Mountain Rescue and the Alaska State Troopers have suspended efforts to recover the remains of Squamish climber Marc-André Leclerc, 25, and fellow climber Ryan Johnson, 34.

The two men were reported missing on March 7 after they were late returning from a climb in the Mendenhall Ice Field in Juneau.

A severe snowstorm had moved into the area.

On March 14, Leclerc's family announced the men were presumed dead.

A celebration of Leclerc's life was held in Squamish in May.

At the memorial, Leclerc's mother, Michelle Kuipers, said Leclerc was destined for the mountains. By the time he started kindergarten he had memorized the height of Mount Everest and the names of the first alpinists to reach its peak.

Leclerc grew up in the Fraser Valley, though he and his partner and fellow climber, Brette Harrington, made Squamish their home when they weren't off exploring.

Juneau Mountain Rescue said in a Facebook post on Nov. 5 that its members had attempted to locate and recover the climbers throughout the summer and into the fall.

"The area where the climbers are believed to be is exposed to rock- and ice-fall, broken by deep crevasses, and now covered with snow," the Facebook post stated.

The recovery mission involved searching the area by air and foot and included the efforts of several agencies, including the Alaska State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard Alaska, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka, Alaska Army National Guard, Alaska Search and Rescue dogs and others.

"At this time, it is presumed that the remains of the climbers lie in a hazardous and inaccessible area, making a recovery infeasible."

If new information points to the location of one or both of the climbers, Juneau Mountain Rescue stated its members will consider reviving the recovery mission.

~With files from Haley Ritchie

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