Weather clears for rescue of stranded climber

Troopers fear conditions too dangerous for retrieval of man's dead partner

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2002

A helicopter was able to reach a climber stranded on a mountain near Petersburg on Monday, but recovering the body of his partner appears unlikely.

A trooper with the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection said loose boulders near the body of climber Marc Springer pose too great a risk to attempt a recovery.

Springer, 30, of Layton, Utah, was killed Friday when he fell from a 50-foot ridge near his base camp and was struck by a boulder and other rocks.

"It would be a great risk to our rescuers' lives to try and get the body," said Scott Carson, a fish and wildlife trooper. Carson is recommending that the body remain on the mountain, he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Monday.

Springer was part of a four-person team of climbers due to be picked up Friday after a weeklong trek up the 9,077-foot Devil's Thumb. The mountain is about 120 miles southeast of Juneau near the Alaska and British Columbia border.

Climbers Mark Anderson, 22, of New Mexico, and Janelle Jakulewicz, 26, of Utah were picked up Friday night by a private helicopter.

But poor weather kept the helicopter, operated by TEMSCO Helicopters, from retrieving Springer and fellow climber Mike Anderson.

Steve O'Brocta, pilot and manager of TEMSCO's Petersburg base, said rain, clouds and icing conditions prevented several attempts to reach the two climbers. Springer and Anderson, 25, also of Layton, Utah, were at their base camp about 7,000 feet up the mountain with adequate supplies.

Anderson, who was picked up by a TEMSCO helicopter Monday, told troopers that Springer scaled a ridge about 400 yards from their camp in order to make a cellular telephone call.

Springer was attempting to determine when the two could expect a flight off the mountain, Carson said.

At about 9:15 Friday night, Springer slipped on some loose rocks on the climb down and was struck by a boulder as he clung to the face of the cliff, Carson said.

Carson said recovering the body would involve removing tons of rocks and working in an area where loose boulders still pose a risk.

The other climbers were informed of the prospect of leaving the body on the mountain, Carson said.

"They kind of agree that Springer was a pretty avid climber and in a way, it was fitting that he died doing what he loved. They felt like he's buried up on the mountain," Carson said.

The four climbers each had about 10 years of experience. Springer was rescued from Mount McKinley last year when he developed severe altitude sickness at 14,200 feet.

Springer was a widower whose wife died in a car accident, Carson said.

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