Rock climbers Marc-Andre Leclerc, 24, of Squamish, B.C., and Ryan Johnson, 34, of Juneau, Alaska are dead. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Father of B.C. climber reports his son and another climber are dead in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska — The family of missing British Columbia rock climber says he and his climbing companion have died while attempting a new route on a mountain in Alaska.

Marc-Andre Leclerc’s father posted the message on his public Facebook page late Tuesday night, but offered no further details.

“Sadly, we have lost two really great climbers and I lost a son I am very proud of,” Serge Leclerc wrote. “Thank you for the support during this difficult time. My heart is so broken … Part of me is gone with him.”

The Leclerc family said it is now asking for privacy.

Marc-Andre Leclerc, a 24-year-old from Squamish, B.C., and 34-year-old Ryan Johnson of Juneau hadn’t been heard from since March 5 when they posted a photo from the top of a previous unclimbed route on the Mendenhall Towers, about 20 kilometres north of Juneau.

Poor weather hampered search efforts when the men were reported overdue March 7, but crews were able to search the north face of the mountain on Tuesday.

“As of Tuesday March 13th, SAR efforts have determined that Ryan and Marc are no longer with us,” said a post on the social-media fundraising page for Johnson.

The page says the nearly $30,000 raised for Johnson will be used to pay for the search efforts and support his two-year-old son, Milo.

An online fundraiser for Marc-Andre Leclerc had raised nearly $40,000 and his family said that money will help his partner, Brette, as she and the family grieve.

Marc-Andre Leclerc was considered a gifted climber. Outside magazine called him “one of the best young alpinists in the world,” and his biography on sponsor Arc’Teryx’s website says he completed several ascents in Canada and Patagonia.

Treya Klassen, a close friend of Marc-Andre Leclerc’s father, said on the weekend that the young man has had his eye on climbing Mendenhall Towers for a decade.

Johnson was described in the online version of Alpinist magazine as knowing the Mendenhall Towers “like nobody else.”

Further information from the Alaska State Troopers was expected to be released later Wednesday.

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