Body of Minnesota climber found in China
BEIJING – Rescuers struggling through high winds and blizzards recovered the body of a second American climber Monday after an avalanche buried a team of three U.S. mountaineers in southwestern China last week, an official said.
One of the Americans was still missing
The body of photographer Wade Johnson, 24, of Arden Hills, Minn., was uncovered Monday morning by a team of Chinese rescuers.
The rescue team had been scouring Mount Gongga in Sichuan province for the two missing U.S. mountain climbers after the body of Jonathan “Jonny” Copp of Boulder, Colo., was found Saturday.
Three search teams are now on the mountain but are facing rough conditions, said Gao Min, a spokesman for the Sichuan Mountaineering Association.
“Our search team has encountered extremely challenging conditions today with the intense winds, potential for avalanches and heavy snowfall,” Gao said.
Johnson was working for Boulder-based Sender Films, which makes climbing and outdoor adventure films.
Johnson was a 2007 graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., where a memorial service for students, faculty and staff was scheduled for Monday afternoon. It was scheduled before his body was found, but after he was presumed dead.
In a statement distributed by the college before the body was found, Johnson’s mother, Susan Johnson, said, “Wade is someone to truly celebrate – and I continue to be amazed as to how vast the network is of the many people who knew and loved him.”
Robb Shurr, a spokesman for the Colorado-based search effort organized by friends and family of the climbers, thanked the Chinese teams of searchers and said those closest to Johnson had remained strong in the past few days.
“This is a very sad day. Wade had a big life in front of him,” Shurr said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Johnson family and all of the many people that had the opportunity to know and love Wade.”
Shurr said the Johnson family was preparing its own statement.
The deaths of Copp, 35, and Johnson were the first on Mount Gongga since 2001, Gao said.
Micah Dash, 32, also of Boulder, remains missing. The three men were last heard from on May 20 at the base camp of Mount Edgar, a Mount Gongga peak.
Gongga, Tibetan for “highest snowcapped mountain,” attracts both tourists and mountaineers. It is 24,790 feet (7,556 meters) above sea level, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Up until now, the county has been a referral agency relegated to commenting on the plan but that could change if developers plan water service extension to the site