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plumbbob

Devils Thumb

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Two climbers from Vancouver BC are overdue on Devils Thumb. They are attempting the NW face. Three climbers were droped off about three weeks ago in Thomas Bay. They skied up the Baird Glaicier and into the Witches Cauldron. Two went up on the face with 5 days food. After a week the third skied out to the coast and radioed a pasing boat. A search by air started last Sunday and continues as weather permits. The only name I caught on the morning news was Guy Edwards. Hope for the best.

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Climbers missing in Southeast

OVERDUE: Canadians were trying to be first up Devils Thumb face.

 

 

By PETER PORCO

Anchorage Daily News

(Published: April 22, 2003)

 

Two Canadian climbers are missing on a distinctive mountain near Petersburg after a weekend of mostly bad weather hampered search efforts, Alaska State Troopers said.

 

The search for Guy Edwards and John Millar of British Columbia was kept on hold most of Monday too as low clouds kept a helicopter pilot from flying close to 9,077-foot Devils Thumb, troopers said. It resumed when the clouds broke Monday evening.

 

The pilot indicated that avalanches had occurred in the area recently, said trooper Chris Umbs in Petersburg.

 

Devils Thumb rises from the Stikine Ice Cap about 30 miles northeast of Petersburg. A Utah climber fell and died there in July.

 

Edwards, 30, and Millar, 24, were last seen on the north face by their climbing companion, 33-year-old Kai M. Hirvornen of Vancouver, British Columbia, more than a week ago.

 

All three are seasoned mountaineers, the troopers said.

 

They apparently chartered a boat that took them and supplies to last four to six weeks to the base of Baird Glacier about two weeks ago, Umbs said. They had planned to do a lot of climbing, he said.

 

For three days they skied about 20 miles up Baird and another glacier, Witches Cauldron, to the base of the mountain.

 

Hirvornen "just didn't feel like going up with them" when Edwards and Millar left camp April 13 with gear and food for a four- to five-day climb up the face, Umbs said.

 

In the middle of the night, Hivornen saw the shine of their headlamps, his last glimpse of them.

 

The weather was poor for most of last week. Hivornen became concerned Friday when his partners had not returned.

 

"He didn't know if they were hunkered down, and he wanted to get help," so he decided to come out, Umbs said.

 

Hivornen skied to the head of Thomas Bay, where he called for help with a hand-held radio, according to troopers. A pilot for Temsco Helicopters in Petersburg picked him up Friday evening and brought him to town.

 

At 5 a.m. Saturday, the pilot flew off to search for the other two, taking Hirvornen along. Two fixed-wing pilots with the Juneau Civil Air Patrol joined the search, troopers said.

 

By Saturday afternoon, worsening weather grounded the CAP planes, and by 7 p.m. the search was suspended for the night.

 

The Temsco pilot made several trips to the area Sunday as the weather allowed, troopers said.

 

The first recorded climb of Devils Thumb was in 1946. It is an infrequent destination, said Colby Coombs, a Talkeetna mountaineer and co-author of "Alaska: A Climbing Guide."

 

There's no easy way up; the area is remote, and the mountain is close enough to the sea that it collects plenty of bad weather. The few people who try are almost all experienced climbers, Coombs said.

 

Its 6,000-foot north face, the route apparently taken by the missing climbers, is a prize yet unclaimed, said Joe Reichert, a National Park Service ranger in Talkeetna who scaled Devils Thumb by a standard route 10 years ago.

 

"It's one of the most coveted unclimbed faces in North America," he said.

 

Daily News reporter Peter Porco can be reached at pporco@adn.com or 257-4582.

 

 

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SUXXOR

 

ALL 3 GUYS ARE GREAT PEOPLE AND EXTREMLY SOLID CLIMBERS.

 

HOPEFULLY GUY AND JOHN ARE OKAY!!!

 

 

 

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shit. Jolly John is a good friend and one of the best people I know. This is pretty upsetting.

 

 

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I thought Lena Rowat was with them as well? I've only met Guy a few times but he was very friendly (even to a newbie climber like me). I hope everything works out.

Edited by salbrecher

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I just got an email from Lena forwarded from Kai.

 

they are presumed buried.

 

perhaps there will be a miracle but it seems unlikely.

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Damn, that really sucks. I remember Guy Edwards from a slideshow I saw of his Coast Range traverse. He's an inspirational climber.

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Thanks, Plumbbob.

 

I was Guy Edwards' 105th full-day climbing partner. When I got nervous about him he just said, "Maybe this is my day to die." IF he's gone we should all be a little tougher. Not that I could really take his example, but it is a good one.

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HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!! NO WAY!!!!!!! madgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gifmadgo_ron.gif

 

Umm, if I remember from Guy's slide show two years back on "the traverse" and his mention of the unclimbed north face, and his pic of it, it doesn't seem like a typical avy slope. More like veritcal ice. Maybe a serac fall or something?

 

 

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I have a few more details but I don't wish to share

publically right now.

 

I have spent some time with friends this afternoon and we

are all very sad and lost for words. This is an enormous blow.

 

Details are spare and the news has not yet travelled to

all close friends and family, many are away on climbing

trips themselves.

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3694_devils.jpg

 

A (poorly) scanned photo of the N face. From Jim Haberl's Risking Adventure. Just reread the Thumb chapter in Krakauer's Into the Wild: "the ugly, avalanche-swept lower half of the face." frown.gif

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This is sad news. I met Guy up in the Bugs one year and he was very nice.

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from adn.com

 

 

Troopers call off search for Canadian climbers

DEVILS THUMB: Two men have been missing for nearly a week.

 

 

Daily News staff

 

(Published: April 23, 2003)

Alaska State Troopers have called off the search for two Canadian climbers who have been missing on the remote Devils Thumb for almost a week, trooper Chris Umbs said Tuesday from Petersburg.

 

Intermittent searches since Saturday have turned up no sign of Guy Edwards and John Millar, Umbs said.

 

Troopers have not ruled out the possibility that Edwards, 30, and Millar, 24, are hunkered down for safety somewhere. Their base camp about a mile from the mountain is largely intact and unoccupied, Umbs said.

 

A helicopter pilot indicated that avalanches have occurred in the area, he said.

 

Edwards and Millar were last seen by a third climber in their party about 2 a.m. on April 14 as they were ascending the 9,077-foot peak on the Alaska-Canada border about 30 miles northeast of Petersburg.

 

They had taken about four to five days' food and gear on April 13 when they departed the team's base camp intending to complete the first ascent of the north face.

 

The third member of their team, Kai M. Hirvornen of Vancouver, British Columbia, remained in camp. Weather was poor in the days that followed, Umbs said. When the climbers did not return in time, Hirvornen skied out alone about 20 miles to summon help on Friday.

 

Searchers were hampered over the weekend and Monday by continuing poor weather, but a helicopter pilot with Hirvornen aboard managed to get through clouds occasionally to search the mountain.

 

They last searched for about four hours Monday evening, Umbs said. The search was indefinitely suspended at 10 a.m. Tuesday, he said.

 

Neither Hirvornen nor the pilot for Temsco helicopters, Stephen Obrocta, returned messages.

 

Edwards, Millar and Hirvornen are experienced climbers. Edwards has climbed successfully in major mountain ranges around the world, according to the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.

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This is the Alaska State Trooper press release. The news is not good. My condolences to family and friends.

 

PETERSBURG...SEARCH AND RESCUE...ON TUESDAY, APRIL 22ND, STATE TROOPERS HAVE SUSPENDED SEARCH EFFORTS FOR TWO CANADIAN CLIMBERS WHO WERE ATTEMPTING TO CLIMB DEVIL'S THUMB, A MOUNTAIN LOCATED APPROXIMATELY 50 MILES EAST OF PETERSBURG.

 

GUY EDWARDS, 20 AND JOHN M. MILLAR, 24, BOTH FROM VANCOUVER, BC, BEGAN CLIMBING THE NORTH FACE OF DEVIL'S THUMB ON THE EVENING OF SUNDAY, APRIL 13TH. THE NORTH FACE HAS NEVER SUCCESSFULLY BEEN CLIMBED. A THIRD MEMBER OF THEIR PARTY, KAI HIRVORNEN, 33, ALSO OF VANCOUVER, STAYED AT THEIR BASE CAMP AND WAS ABLE TO WATCH THE TWO CLIMBERS DURING THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF THE CLIMB. HE LOST SIGHT OF THE CLIMBERS SOMETIME AROUND 0130 ON MONDAY MORNING.

 

THE TWO MEN INTENDED TO RETURN TO THEIR BASE CAMP WITHIN A FEW DAYS. HIRVORNEN WAITED FOR THEM UNTIL THURSDAY, APRIL 17TH THEN STARTED HIKING OUT OF THE AREA TO SUMMON HELP. HE HIKED DOWN BAIRD GLACIER, REACHING THOMAS BAY ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON, WHERE HE USED A VHF RADIO TO CONTACT A PASSING BOAT. A HELICOPTER WAS SENT OUT TO PICK UP HIRVORNEN AND BRING HIM TO PETERSBURG.

 

THE SEARCH AND RESCUE EFFORTS THAT ENSUED INVOLVED THE US COAST GUARD RESCUE COORDINATION CENTER IN JUNEAU, THE ALASKA STATE TROOPERS, THE PETERSBURG SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM, THE JUNEAU SQUADRON OF THE CIVIL AIR PATROL, AND TEMSCO HELICOPTERS. MOUNTAIN RESCUE TEAMS IN JUNEAU AND SITKA WERE ALERTED TO STANDBY FOR POSSIBLE DEPLOYMENT. TECHNICAL ADVICE AND OTHER ASSISTANCE WAS PROVIDED BY THE SOUTHEAST AVALANCHE CENTER IN JUNEAU, SEADOGS IN JUNEAU, AND THE ALASKA MOUNTAIN RESCUE GROUP IN ANCHORAGE.

 

WEATHER AND AVALANCHE CONDITIONS HAMPERED THE SEARCH EFFORTS THROUGHOUT THIS MISSION. BAD WEATHER RESULTED IN THE SUSPENSION OF HELICOPTER OPERATIONS ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS. EXTREME AVALANCHE CONDITIONS PREVENTED THE USE OF GROUND SEARCHERS OR MOUNTAIN RESCUE PERSONNEL. INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT AVALANCHES HAD BEEN OCCURRING IN THE AREA BEFORE THE CLIMBERS STARTED THEIR ASCENT, WERE ON-GOING DURING THE TIME EXPECTED TO COMPLETE THE ASCENT, AND CONTINUED THROUGHOUT THE SEARCH EFFORTS. SOME OF THESE AVALANCHES INVOLVED THE RELEASE OF HUGE SNOW SLABS MEASURING UP TO SIX FEET THICK. IN SPITE OF THESE HAZARDS, DURING BREAKS IN THE WEATHER A TEMSCO HELICOPTER WAS ABLE TO SEARCH THE ENTIRE MOUNTAIN AND THE ICE FIELDS THAT SURROUND IT. EXCEPT FOR THE BASE CAMP LEFT BY THE CLIMBERS, NO SIGNS OF HUMAN ACTIVITY WERE EVER FOUND.

 

IT IS BELIEVED BY INVESTIGATORS THAT THE TWO MEN WERE PROBABLY STRUCK BY AN AVALANCHE SOMETIME DURING THE FIRST 24 HOURS OF THEIR CLIMB. IT IS ALSO BELIEVED THAT SUCH AN EVENT WOULD ALMOST CERTAINLY BE FATAL TO THE CLIMBERS.

 

BOTH MEN POSSESSED AVALANCHE TRANSCEIVERS, DEVICES WHICH SEND OUT AN ELECTRONIC SIGNAL TO HELP SEARCHERS LOCATE AVALANCHE VICTIMS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE CLIMBERS DID NOT TAKE THEIR TRANSCEIVERS ON THE CLIMB. THEY WERE LEFT AMONG THE GEAR AT THEIR BASE CAMP

 

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that's no toque. anyway I'm sorry to those who knew them well, though an internet condolence is rather empty, here it is. think good thoughts.

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lates from canada.com

 

Lost on Devil's Thumb

Two B.C. climbers have apparently died trying to scale what's called North America's 'biggest wall of steepness,' writes Keith Fraser.

 

Keith Fraser

CanWest News Service

 

Thursday, April 24, 2003

 

VANCOUVER - Two experienced Vancouver climbers are missing and presumed dead in an avalanche during a high-risk ascent of a glacier peak on the Alaska-B.C. border.

 

On April 13, Guy Edwards and John Millar started a fast ascent of the never-before-climbed northern face of the Devil's Thumb, a remote 2,700-metre peak about 50 kilometres northeast of the Alaskan fishing village of Petersburg.

 

A third member of their team, Kai Hirvonen, 33, stayed at the base camp and could see their head lamps for several hours before losing sight of them early the following morning.

 

When Mr. Edwards, 30, and Mr. Millar, 24, did not appear several days later as expected, Mr. Hirvonen hiked out of the icefields and went for help.

 

On Saturday, after being informed the pair was missing, Alaska search and rescue officials sent helicopters.

 

"We believe they were probably struck by an avalanche and the odds of surviving ... are almost zero," Lieut. Chuck Lamica, the search and rescue co-ordinator for the Alaska state troopers said Tuesday.

 

"It's too dangerous to try to put searchers on the ground there to check any of these avalanche debris piles to see if they might be in there."

 

They suspended the search on Tuesday.

 

Lieut. Lamica said the avalanche activity in the area was "very high" and Devil's Thumb has attracted mountaineers from around the world.

 

"At this time of year, it's just basically one avalanche after another up there. The area around the mountain is surrounded by glaciers and icefields."

 

Dieter Klose, an area expert who says he's climbed higher up the extremely steep face than anyone, said the family of one of the climbers has hired a helicopter to continue the search.

 

"I feel the state troopers are justified in calling off the search at this point. However, I told the mom that if it were my son up there, I'd keep looking. Not that I think I'm going to find anything, but for peace of mind."

 

Mr. Klose says he communicated by e-mail with the climbers before their ascent and says they were "well aware of the risks."

 

"I did not know these people, but we were kindred spirits," said Mr. Klose, 44, who climbed halfway up the face in 1982. "I have a close connection to that face. All the climbers who come through town generally look me up. It's very, very tragic."

 

Mr. Klose said he had spoken to Mr. Hirvonen after he got back from the mountain and learned from him that the climbers had tried to climb "very, very fast" in order to get beyond the dangerous fall line of the glacier.

 

"These guys were really good climbers from what I understand, just top-notch guys, doing everything right," he said. "Nothing has been found of them. We saw no evidence. I've flown the mountain a couple of times."

 

Mr. Klose called the face "maybe the biggest wall of that steepness" in all of North America.

 

"The problem with that face ... is that it's very, very dangerous. There is a hanging glacier on it and both sides of the face are also massive hanging glaciers that could cut loose at any time of the night or day."

 

On a climbing Web site, Mr. Edwards described a previous trip he had made to the Devil's Thumb.

 

"It's kinda like the North American Patagonia, bad weather and all. We had two good days out of 21 and the forecast was calling for more bad weather, so we bailed."

 

© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen

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