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Stewart Green

Three American Climbers Missing in China

By June 5, 2009

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Two of America’s best mountaineers, 35-year-old Jonny Copp and 30-year-old Micah Dash, are missing in the mountains of the Sichuan Province in western China along with 24-year-old Wade Johnson, who was filming the pair for Sender Films.

Copp and Dash, financing the trip with the Mugs Stump grant from the American Alpine Club, were attempting an ascent of 22,368-foot (6,818-meter) Mt. Edgar in the Minya Konka massif. They had originally planned to do the first ascent of 21,712-foot Dojitsenga, an unclimbed peak in the remote Kangri Garpo range but changed their plans.

The trio are four days past their scheduled return to the United States, missing their flight home from Chengdu on Wednesday, and haven’t been seen or heard from since May 20 over two weeks ago. Given the remoteness of the region, however, they might still be on the mountain waiting out bad weather to descend. Right now their friends and families are calling them “late” rather than “missing.” Let’s hope so.

A couple Chinese rescue parties from the Sichuan Mountaineering Association are in the area trying to locate the climbers. Here in the United States, Bruce and Susan Johnson, parents of Wade, are trying to find a helicopter to help with the search effort and two teams of experienced American climbers, composed of Eric Decaria, Nick Martino, Pete Takeda, and Steve Su, are making travel arrangements to fly there as soon as possible. Decaria and Martino hope to be in Chengdu on Sunday.

Jonny Copp and Micah Dash, both from Boulder, Colorado, are experienced mountaineers and rock climbers with loads of experience on mountains in the remote corners of the globe. Copp runs the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder. On its website, Robb Shurr, a spokesman for the search effort, says, “We’re taking all the necessary steps to gather information about the climbers’ whereabouts and haven’t identified any complications beyond their lateness. Although we’re concerned, in alpine climbing it’s not unusual to for climbers to be delayed or out of contact for this long. We are still hopeful.”

The rest of us are hoping the boys come home too. I’ll keep you posted about any new developments.

Photograph top: The Southeast Face of Mount Edgar from Base Camp.

Photograph courtesy Roland Ziedler/Adventure Film Festival

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