Two experienced mountain climbers trying to tackle a new route in Alaska were presumed dead after climbing ropes that matched their gear were found in a crevasse, authorities said Wednesday. George "Ryan" Johnson, 34, of Juneau, and Marc-Andre Leclerc, 25, of Squamish, British Columbia, were reported missing after they failed to return from a climb March 7 on a seven-peaked mountain not far from Alaska's capital city. Rescuers had to wait until Tuesday for the weather to clear to fly to Mendenhall Towers, a mountain that rises nearly 7,000 feet over the Juneau Ice Field, about 12 miles north of Juneau. They found an intact anchor rope at the top of an ice chute on one peak and saw two climbing ropes in a crevasse midway down the same peak, reports the AP.
Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers, said it wasn't clear what went wrong because no one saw what happened. "We know they made it to the top. We know they set anchor," she said. "Whether they were taken out by an avalanche, whether their rope failed—I mean, anything could happen." Officials won't be able to recover the bodies right away because of avalanche danger. Johnson and Leclerc had been flown to the mountain and planned to ski out to an area to be picked up. Leclerc was considered a gifted climber. Outside magazine called him "one of the best young alpinists in the world," and his biography on the website of a sponsor, Canadian outdoor equipment company Arc'Teryx, says he completed several ascents in Canada and Patagonia.