Still No Sign of Missing Climber on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve
A second day of searching has failed to turn up any sign of a missing climber on Mount McKinley in Denali National Park and Preserve, and rangers plan to continue the search through the weekend.
On Friday four spotters aboard a Cessna Conquest fixed wing aircraft failed to see any trace of Dr. Gerald Myers, of Centennial, Colorado, who was reported overdue after making a solo bid for the summit. The plane made two separate flights 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 were to 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 summitting 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 was to continue Friday evening and through the weekend to cover more of the vast search zone.