Gerald Myers 05-19-09

Search on for missing McKinley climber


Published: May 21st, 2009 Gerald Myers

A Colorado climber packing skis but limited other gear is missing on Mount McKinley and an initial high-altitude aerial search produced no sightings this morning.

Gerald Myers, 41, of Centennial, Colo., is believed to have reached the 20,320-foot summit of North America's highest peak Wednesday afternoon, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin.

A group of climbers returning from the summit reported seeing Myers on the summit ridge, she said. But he has not returned to the 17,200-foot high camp or to the 14,200-foot camp from which he launched his solo summit attempt early Tuesday morning.

Park rangers think Myers may have elected to descend on a more difficult route other than the popular West Buttress, which he took to the summit ridge and perhaps beyond.

The fact he was carrying skis suggests he may have attempted to descend via the Orient Express or the Messner Couloir -- both of which are ski descents, McLaughlin said. Descents on two other possible routes, the West Buttress and the Reserve Gully, can be done on snowshoes, skis or crampons, she said.

"There are many routes to come down and we do not know which one he was targeting," McLaughlin said.

Myers was traveling light. Though he grabbed his skis from a cache at 17,200 feet on Tuesday morning, rangers believe he carried no sleeping bag, bivvy sack, thermal pad or stove.

This morning's search, by an Air National Guard HC-130 Hercules, was limited by high winds and cloud cover. A second search could happen this evening if there's a break in the weather, McLaughlin said.

This is the third incident, and the first search, on the mountain this season, McLaughlin said. In separate incidents earlier this month, William Hearne of Fairport, N.Y., 61, collapsed on his approach to the 14,200-foot camp and died of apparent natural causes, and a man with pulmonary edema was evacuated from 14,200 feet.

Find Beth Bragg online at or call 257-4309.

Colorado man still missing on McKinley
NO SIGN: Myers was last seen Tuesday attempting to summit.

By MEGAN HOLLAND, Published: May 22nd, 2009

The National Park Service continued its search Friday for a missing Colorado climber on Mount McKinley but saw no sign of him.

Gerald Myers, 41, was last seen Tuesday as he was ascending the West Buttress of the 20,320-foot McKinley.

Searchers boarded a fixed-wing, twin-engine airplane Friday morning and afternoon to circle the top of the mountain and look for Myers. Rangers also sent a helicopter, said Maureen McLaughlin, park service spokeswoman.

Spotters were hoping for Myers or any sign of him, including lone foot tracks or his red jacket or black pants.

Previous reports from the Park Service were that Myers was last seen on Wednesday, near the summit of the mountain, but by Friday afternoon rangers were not confident of that information, McLaughlin said.

The airplane and helicopter spotters took aerial photographs, which were being blown up and technically manipulated back at park headquarters Friday night to see if there was anything the naked eye didn't see, McLaughlin said. By manipulating contrasts on the photos, rangers can more easily spot snow tracks. It's a technique the park service began using last year with pretty good success, she said.

Myers, a chiropractor from Centennial, Colo., had skis but little survival gear with him. Colorado friends say he had extensive climbing experience.

There are 411 climbers currently on the mountain. The last week of May and beginning of June is the busiest time to climb North America's tallest peak.

Find Megan Holland online at or call 257-4343.

Denali searchers still find no trace of missing climber
DOCTOR: An area formerly obscured by clouds gets a look, as does the north side.


Published: May 23rd, 2009

Searchers on Saturday got their best look yet at midrange levels of Mount McKinley where a Colorado climber has been missing for several days, but there's still no sign of 41-year-old Gerald Myers.

Clear weather allowed searchers aboard fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter to get the first good look at areas between 14,000 and 17,000 feet, a section that had been obscured by clouds during the first two days of the search. Myers was traveling along the West Buttress above 17,000 feet when he was last seen.

Also on Saturday, a Cessna 206 from Hudson Air scanned the north side of North America's tallest peak, the first time that side of the mountain had been searched.

"There's a big chunk of mountain that's only getting seen today," Denali National Park spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said Saturday afternoon. "But still no sign of Dr. Myers."

The last confirmed sighting of Myers, a chiropractor from Centennial, Colo., was on Tuesday. Initial reports put him near the 20,320-foot summit on Wednesday, but rangers now believe the climber spotted there was someone else wearing similar colors.

Myers left his three climbing partners at 14,200 feet early Tuesday morning and was making a solo attempt to summit North America's tallest peak. He grabbed a pair of skis from a cache at 17,200 feet, but it's believed he was carrying little other gear, including a stove or a sleeping bag, as he made his solo summit attempt.

A friend in Colorado familiar with Myers' plans said on Thursday that Myers intended to ski down the mountain. Such intentions may have put him on one of two very steep and risky routes that require skis to descend -- the Orient Express or the Messner Couloir.

McLaughlin said the search will continue today. A privately owned twin-engine Conquest is returning to its Anchorage base, but two Army Chinook helicopters, capable of high-altitude flying and hovering, are being brought in from Fairbanks, she said.

"We're still actively searching," McLaughlin said.

One climber has died on McKinley this season -- a 61-year-old New Yorker who collapsed from apparent natural causes while on the approach to the 14,200-foot camp.

Some 404 climbers were on the mountain Saturday, according to park service statistics. So far this season, 129 climbers have concluded their expeditions, with 63 of them reaching the summit. Usually about half of McKinley's climbers reach the summit.

Find Beth Bragg online at or call 257-4309.

Hope diminishing for climber missing on McKinley
WEATHER: Colorado man last seen almost a week ago had gone above 17,000 feet.

By MARY PEMBERTON, The Associated Press

Published: May 25th, 2009

The likelihood that a Colorado man is alive somewhere on Mount McKinley is diminishing with each passing day, but search crews have not given up looking for Gerald Myers.

They were out again Monday, nearly a week since Myers was last spotted on a solo climb and attempting to reach the summit of North America's highest peak. When seen last Tuesday, the 41-year-old Centennial, Colo., man was wearing a red jacket when he left camp at 17,000 feet and headed up the mountain.

Myers likely was carrying minimal survival gear. He was last seen that same afternoon above Denali Pass at 18,200 feet.

Maureen McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Denali National Park, said searchers are paying close attention to the upper mountain's west face. Monday morning, two Army Chinook helicopters from Fort Wainwright had to cut short the search because of winds that were between 25 and 35 miles per hour.

"The winds have calmed a bit," McLaughlin said Monday afternoon.

However, fluctuating winds prevented the helicopters from going out again in the afternoon. A high-altitude park helicopter with a pilot and spotter was able to get to the search area.

A three-person ground crew on Monday was searching an area above the Denali Pass along a ridge at about 18,200 feet. Searchers were focusing on an area between 18,000 and 20,000 feet.

"They are taking a closer look over the lip heading down to the west face," McLaughlin said.

She said it's possible that Myers could have slipped and is injured, or perhaps sought shelter off the ridge in a crevasse or indentation in the rock when the winds increased.

McLaughlin said if Myers was OK they would have expected that he would have drawn attention to himself by now and someone would have spotted him.

"We would assume he is injured or ill at this point," she said.

There has been no signal from a locater beacon that Myers had been activating every day to provide an indication of where he was on the mountain. The last time the beacon was activated was last Tuesday.

Myers, who is a practicing chiropractor in Colorado, was an experienced climber but McKinley, at 20,320 feet, is higher than what he has climbed before, McLaughlin said.

"It does appear to be his first trip to Alaska and his first trip to higher elevation above 14,000 feet," she said.

McLaughlin said the two Army helicopters have returned to Fort Wainwright. If Myers is not found by the end of Monday, the search plan will be reassessed.

Weather prevented an effective search on Sunday.

Saturday, three aircraft with spotting crews flew more than 10 hours looking for Myers. Search zones included the upper mountain between 14,200 and 17,200 feet, as well as potential north side descent routes.

McLaughlin said 454 climbers were on the mountain Monday. The two-week period at the end of May and the beginning of June tends to be the busiest on McKinley.

So far this climbing season, one climber has died of natural causes. Another who was suffering from pulmonary edema had to be evacuated by helicopter.

Park service calls off search for climber missing on McKinley
PRESUMED DEAD: Colorado doctor, 41, last seen on thursday.


Published: May 26th, 2009

The search for a Colorado doctor who vanished near the top of Mount McKinley ended Tuesday after six days of searching failed to turn up any sign of him or his gear, according to the National Park Service.

Gerald Myers, a 41-year-old climber from Centennial, Colo., is now listed missing and presumed dead, Denali National Park and Preserve spokeswoman Maureen McLaughlin said.

The aerial search for Myers was called off Tuesday afternoon after search crews determined further efforts were unlikely to find him, McLaughlin said. Rangers searching on the ground had also been unable to find sign of Myers, she said.

"It's such vast territory it's amazing how small things get obscured either behind rocks or snow," McLaughlin said. "There's many different possibilities of why we wouldn't see him now, but the bottom line becomes if he was able-bodied, by this point we would have expected to see him waving or moving to a camp or received contact via his Spot transceiver."

Though the active search was called off, park rangers would continue examining thousands of high-resolution images taken of the mountain during the search for any sign of him.

A chiropractor with extensive climbing experience, Myers had been planning the ascent for a few years, said Dr. David Friedman, whose Centennial practice, Arapahoe Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center, Myers worked for. He'd held out hope Myers would be rescued until the search was called off, he said.

"If somebody was going to be up there on the mountain having difficulties, he's the type of person that you would think could survive it," Friedman said. "As we went on and on, day after day, each day it did seem like things got a little dimmer."

Myers left his three climbing partners at a 14,200-foot camp last Tuesday packing a pair of skis but little other gear as he attempted a solo summit, according to the park service.

Myers had talked about skiing down after his ascent, but park officials didn't know what route he planned to take, McLaughlin said. A number of them were searched, though weather was an impediment at times, she said.

The last confirmed sighting of Myers was Thursday between 18,000 and 19,000 feet up the 20,320-foot peak. A GPS device Myers was carrying, which he had used to record his position at least once a day, last registered that day at a 17,200-foot camp.

An individual climber was seen on the summit ridge Wednesday, but McLaughlin said officials were not sure if it was Myers or another climber who had moved ahead of his party and only appeared to be alone.

Myers was carrying a small daypack and had minimal survival gear with him. Park officials said it appeared he was not carrying recommended gear like a sleeping bag, bivy sack, stove or thermal pad.

Surviving on the mountain, with its subzero temperatures, is "outside the window of possibility" with such limited supplies, according to park officials.

Myers' disappearance brings to 104 lives Mount McKinley has claimed since tracking began in 1932, McLaughlin said.

Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589.