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Climbing News from Here and Abroad -- June 11, 2009

Posted Jun 23 2009 6:55pm
Approximately a week ago, news started to float in that there was a significant tragedy on Mount Edgar (22,368') in China. World class climbers Jonny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson were attempting a first ascent on a serious alpine wall on the Minya Konka massif in the Western Sichuan Province. After the team missed their flight home, an international rescue effort went into effect.

Over the weekend, the worst was confirmed. Jonny's body was found in avalanche debris at the base of their route on Saturday and Wade's body was uncovered on Monday. At the time of this writing, Micah was still missing, but presumed dead. To read more, click here and here.

Wade Johnson

Micah Dash

Jonny Copp

The tragedy in China had a significant impact on us here at AAI. A few years ago, we trained Wade and he worked with a number of our guides in our Alpine Mountaineering and Technical Leadership Program. Jonny Copp was a longtime climbing partner and friend of AAI guide Dylan Taylor. The two completed a high end first ascent in Patagonia together. And many of our guides worked with Micah Dash at the Red Rock Rendezvous in Las Vegas.

This trio of young men were well known in the climbing and guiding world and they will be missed by all...


--A Mukilteo man reported missing on Tuesday was found dead on Cedar Creek Trail, west of Mazama. Cory A. Hubbard, 48, drove across the Cascades Mountains for a day hike Saturday. When he did not return home or report to work on Monday, his family called the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office, said Sheriff Frank Rogers. Aero Methow Rescue in the Methow Valley searched for his vehicle, and located it near the Cedar Creek Trailhead, about two miles west of Mazama. The search crew found Hubbard about six miles up the trail. To read more, click here.

-- A teen hunter from Skagit County has been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of hiker Pam Almli on Sauk Mountain. On August 2, 2008, the teen mistook54-year-old Almli for a bear and fired a shot. The bullet struck her in the head and killed her. To read more, click here.

--A hiker who fell about 150 feet and suffered a head injury was airlifted off Mount Ellinor in the Olympic Mountains over the weekend. The Mason County Sheriff's Department Chief Dean Byrd tells KIRO-TV that the man fell late Sunday afternoon on an ice field while climbing with a group of people. KOMO Radio reports he was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. His identity and condition are not immediately available. To read more, click here.


--It’s early in the season, but already Law Enforcement has raided a marijuana farm growing on public lands in the Sierra. It’s a growing problem that has popped up in the Eastern Sierra over the past few years as large out door marijuana farms have been found in the mountains near Independence and Big Pine, the White Mountains and the Glass Mountains near Mammoth. The latest comes from inside a National Park. Last week, National Park Service Rangers along with Fish and Game and others raided a grow site in Sequoia National Park. Remote, hard to get to sites appear to be the grower’s choice. In this case, the 2400 plants were found in steep brushy terrain that required a helicopter to fly the agents in for the raid. To read more, click here.

--Instead of the usual 90 degree days this time of year, cool temperatures, rain and snow has been a common occurrence for over a month. With short bursts of rain and highs in the 80’s, many people in the Owens Valley have welcomed this unusual weather. Dennis Mattinson, forecast specialist for the Sierra Wave news service, says he expects the cool and wet weather to continue into next week. The afternoon thunderstorms of the typical monsoon season usually occur in the summer, but May and June are often marked with clear blue skies. “It’s really quite strange,” he says. To read more, click here.


American Alpine Institute teams were successful on Denali this week. Team 3 summitted after extending their itinerary, followed shortly thereafter by Team 4. To read the most recent dispatches from our expeditions, click here.

The Heavily Corniced Summit Ridge of Mount Huntington
hoto by Coley Gentzel

--Long time Alaskan climbers Jay Smith and Jack Tackle spent a good chunk of May in the Alaska Range putting up four new routes. The new lines included some real exploration on Mount Huntington and on Thunder Mountain. To read more, click here.

-- Paul Schweizer and Simon Yates recently completed the first ascent of the Southwest Spur of Good Neighbor Peak (15,912'), Mt Vancouver's South Summit. Mount Vancouver is located in the Saint Elias Range on the Alaska/Yukon boarder. The Saint-Elias Range is perhaps the least explored mountain range in North America and there are still hundreds of first ascents to be had. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--This week Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar informed President Obama and the Cabinet that the National Park Service will begin economic recovery projects at 107 national parks in next 100 days, creating new jobs and stimulating local economies while making parks better places for Americans to visit. “We are moving full speed ahead to put Americans to work on vital projects at parks across the country,” Salazar said at a Cabinet meeting held Monday. “We are providing good jobs while preserving our national treasures and benefiting the 147 million people who visit these each year.” To read more, click here.

--Glacier National Park officials report that a jogger was injured Sunday morning in an encounter with a grizzly bear while running on a backcountry trail on the park’s west side. On Sunday, June 7th Thomas Nerison, 60, of Kalispell, Mont., reported that he had been bitten by a grizzly bear at about 9:45 a.m., while he was running on the Lake McDonald Valley Trail in Lake McDonald Valley on the park’s west side. To read more, click here.

--Three-consecutive years of losses and a high debt load may be too much for Eddie Bauer Holdings to overcome. The outdoor clothing retailer may seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this week, according to five people with knowledge of the discussions. To read more, click here.
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