Aerial Search on Mt. McKinley Suspended
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907) 733-9103
Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
The active search effort for solo climber Dr. Gerald Myers was scaled back on Tuesday afternoon after search managers determined that further air operations were unlikely to locate him. There has been no sighting of the solo climber or his gear during six days of aerial and ground searching. Although no more aerial flights are anticipated, ranger staff will continue to search through the thousands of high resolution images taken during the aerial flights in search of clues to Dr. Myers whereabouts.
Dr. Myers began his summit bid from the 14,200-foot camp the morning of Tuesday, May 19. He was sighted at various elevations along the West Buttress route that day, the highest of which was somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 feet. Dr. Myers did not return to high camp on Tuesday night. An individual climber was observed on the summit ridge the afternoon of Wednesday, May 20, although it cannot be confirmed that it was Dr. Myers.
Dr. Myers was observed carrying only a small daypack with minimal survival gear at the time of his disappearance. He did not take a stove for melting snow, and it is unknown how much food he had in his pack. Throughout his climb, Dr. Myers carried an FRS radio and a SPOT locator device; the last GPS location reported by the SPOT device was at the 17,200-foot camp on May 19. Throughout his trip, Myers had been making at least one position recording each day.
In light of his limited supplies and the subzero temperatures, search managers consider that survival is outside the window of possibility. Observers have thoroughly searched the route and surrounding areas to the degree that if the climbers were visible on the surface, there is a high probability they would have been discovered.
Did You Know?
Warmer temperatures have led to dramatic thawing of permafrost. Thaw releases carbon, as once-frozen materials decompose, but allows increased plant growth. Researchers in Denali are studying whether thawing permafrost will increase or decrease world-wide carbon emissions.