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11/7/2018
Search for climbers' remains suspended

JUNEAU (AP) — The terrain around the remains of two climbers who died eight months ago while scaling the Mendenhall Towers is still too treacherous to access, rescue officials said.

The area is exposed to rockfall and icefall and contains deep crevasses, and now it's covered by snow again, according to a news release from the nonprofit organization Juneau Mountain Rescue.

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

Juneau Mountain Rescue and Alaska State Troopers recently suspended their efforts to recover the remains of Juneau climber George "Ryan" Johnson and British Columbia climber Marc-Andre Leclerc, the Juneau Empire reported Monday.

Johnson and Leclerc, two experienced climbers, scaled the north face of what is called the Main Tower in March. Juneau Mountain Rescue personnel found their ropes and gear in a crevasse in that gulley, using a technology that had never been used for a search-and-rescue in Alaska, according to searchers at the time.

Rescue officials tried to access the area where the remains are believed to be throughout the summer and fall.

The Mendenhall Towers are jagged peaks that rise nearly 7,000 feet (more than 2,000 meters) above the Juneau Ice Field. The towers, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Juneau, provide a backdrop to the Mendenhall Glacier.

Juneau Mountain Rescue and other agencies have monitored the area and waited for a safe time to go. Even as snow melted during the third-warmest summer in Juneau's recorded history, the terrain still proved too treacherous.