There has been a tragic conclusion to the search for a missing 25-year-old Squamish climber in Alaska.
Marc-Andre Leclerc and his climbing partner, 34-year-old Ryan Johnson of Juneau, AK, were last heard from more than a week ago, when Leclerc sent a text message to his father on March 5 saying he had reached the summit of their climb.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday night Marc-Andre’s father Serge wrote that he had lost his son.
“Sadly we have lost 2 really great climber [sic] and I lost a son I am very proud of. Thank you for the support during this difficult time. My heart is so broken…Part of me is gone with him…”
Marc-Andre’s mother, Michelle, previously told Global News that he had been climbing since the age of 10, and even had a sponsorship with outdoor outfitter Arcteryx.
Leclerc and Johnson had been climbing an area known as the Mendenhall Towers when they lost contact. It was Leclerc’s first time in the area, but his family said Johnson had extensive experience climbing in the region.
State troopers and rescue crews had been scouring the area and had previously found the pair’s gear — but were been hampered by poor weather.
A GoFundMe page that was previously set up to help with expenses related to the search effort will direct the rest of the proceeds to Marc-Andre’s partner, Brette to help with any forthcoming costs.
The family, who have been in Alaska during the search effort, are asking for privacy at this time.
One of Lelcerc’s closest friends was Chilliwack Councillor Sam Waddington, who described the 25-year old as goofy, talented and someone who lived life on the edge.
Waddington said he first met Leclerc when he was 12 years old. He said they both found their love for climbing in an indoor climbing gym, and their friendship grew from there.
“We’d compete against each other and other teams in the region, and he tried really hard to keep up with older guys,” Waddington said. “But we all realized pretty quickly that he was definitely going to keep up and that he was going to surpass us.”
The Chilliwack councillor added that when Leclerc was just 14 years old, the gym was too easy for him, so that is when he began heading out to the mountains. Waddington said Leclerc always did his research on the mountains he climbed.
“He pushed his limits for sure, but he also knew the risks,” Waddington said. “He knew the histories of the mountains, he knew the climbers that had passed away, he knew those worlds and accepted those risks.”
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