Search Continues for Missing Climber
Contact: Maureen McLaughlin, (907) 733-9103
Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583
Aerial searchers on Mt. McKinley discovered no new leads today as to the whereabouts of missing solo climber Dr. Gerald Myers. Four NPS spotters on board a Cessna Conquest fixed wing aircraft flew two separate flight missions to the upper elevations of the peak on Friday afternoon, getting a clear look at the summit plateau and elevations above 19,000 feet. Lower level cloud cover prohibited a helicopter search of the mountain’s middle elevations.
While no obvious visual sightings of the missing climber were made on these flights, hundreds of high resolution images of the upper mountain were collected. The photos will be carefully analyzed throughout the night by staff at the Talkeetna Ranger Station in hopes of finding clues to Dr. Myers’ location.
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. According to original reports from another summiting party, Dr. Myers was believed to be observed on the summit ridge at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 20. However, more extensive NPS interviews with several climbing parties on Friday afternoon indicate a possibility that the soloist seen on the summit ridge may have been an individual Swiss climber wearing similar apparel.
Dr. Myers was carrying minimal survival gear at the time of his disappearance and did not appear to take overnight sleeping gear or a stove for melting snow. It is unknown how much food or water 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. Dr. Myers was seen leaving high camp with skis on his pack. Potential ski descent routes such as the Messner Couloir and the Orient Express continue to be studied under spotting scopes from the 14,200-foot camp, with no sign of the climber.
Weather permitting, aerial searching will continue Friday evening and through the weekend to cover more of the vast search zone.
Did You Know?
In 1908, Charles Sheldon – a hunter and naturalist – described in his journal the idea of a park that would allow visitors to enjoy the beauty he saw while visiting Alaska. In 1917 his vision became reality, with the creation of Mount McKinley National Park.