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therunningdog

Missing climber in the Buck-Clark-Luahna area

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Hey folks,

 

Looking for information for our friend TJ who left on Sunday to climb Clark, Luahna and Buck, with the intention of being back on Tuesday night.

 

TJ Langley is about 42 years old, 5'-11', grey-ish shoulder length hair, most likely has a blue/grey small-ish backpack, blue patagonia rain shell. He survived a bear attack 10 years ago and has some manly-looking facial scars.

 

He was going to climb these peak via Little Giant Pass and a Napeequa Valley base camp.

 

He moves very fast in the mountains, and is rarely late getting back. Espcially with the good weater we have been having we are surprised he is this late. His car is still at the trailhead.

 

Any info? Please call me, or Deputy Gene Ellis with Chelan County Sheriff. 509-630-7541.

 

Thanks,

Tim

206-851-9980

therunningdog@yahoo.com

Edited by therunningdog

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Here is a picture of TJ, probably wearing the pack he has with him right now:

 

TJ1.JPG

 

He's in the middle, block out the jokers on either side:

 

TJ2.JPG

 

Keep your eyes peeled if you are in the area!

 

Thanks- Jason

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the whole bear race might not be looking for revenge on him i hope? :)

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TJ's sister Joy here with an update:

They're on the ground heading up on the trail. Chelan and neighboring counties having some difficulty securing pilots and machines to put in the air so folks are heading up to where it's estimated TJ most recently hiked. They'll search until nightfall and set up camp for the night. Our family thanks you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and encouragement.

 

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I started climbing with TJ many moons ago. The guy is tough and super strong. Sending positive vibes your way!

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The weather was pretty bad in that area late Tuesday afternoon and evening with low cloud ceilings, precipitation and a lot of wind. It rolled in pretty fast too after a really nice morning into mid-afternoon.

 

Let's hope for a good outcome.

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:-( RIP TJ :brew:

 

Doug- what are you saying RIP? Do you know more than what is in the media?

The search is over and it is now a recovery :(

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Where are you getting this info? I don't mean to be too obtuse- he is a good friend of mine and I want to know for sure.

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How many of us could that have been?

I'm certainly not an actor though, but I have always have been someone who could appreciate one. He sounds like someone I would like to have known.

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Just an update to set the story straight. The news outlets have most of the details wrong, and TJ deserves better.

 

Tim called me Thursday morning (10/8) to get my thoughts on whether or not to call in a rescue for TJ. He had left the previous Sunday for a trip over Little Giant pass with the intention of climbing Clark, Luahna, and Buck. TJ discussed with Tim his probable route choices and itinerary, mentioned that he was likely going to do a couple of long days from a camp in the Napeequa. Monday he was going to climb Clark from the south side and traverse over to Luahna and probably climb the SW slope, before descending Butterfly Butte back to the river and his camp. Tuesday was going to be a climb of Buck via High Pass or Louis creek and then back out via Little Giant.

 

Due to how ambitious this plan was, Tim thought that TJ probably wouldn't have gotten out until Wednesday, but became concerned when he hadn't heard from him by Wednesday night. After our short conversation on Thurs. AM, Tim called it in and started things rolling.

 

The initial callout to Chelan SAR had a limited response, so I called some friends at Skagit SAR to see what could be done. A few more calls back and forth between various SAR groups and the plan was set to meet at the Little Giant TH Friday morning at 8am. I convoyed over with four Skagit SAR folks and met Tim and a growing crew of friends bright and early at the TH. Hikers had reported seeing TJ's bivy near the Napeequa river and tracks leading to Buck Mtn (on Wednesday), and a helo flight on Thursday had seen track high on the south slope of Clark. TJ's car was still at the TH. Not a lot to go on, but it was a start.

 

We had to wait awhile for Chelan SAR to show up on Friday, and when they did, they didn't seem to have a plan. Collectively we tried to cobble one together as quickly as possible- the Skagit SAR folks were instrumental in kicking things up a notch. Thanks guys! It turns out that Chelan's helo wasn't available till the afternoon, and even then they didn't want to insert non-SAR folks. This probably would have been fine if there were a lot of SAR folks present, but there were only about 7 available for insert and we had a LOT of real estate to cover. We marked on their maps the approximate routes we felt TJ would be on, and explained that he was experienced enough that it was unlikely that he would be anywhere else.

 

Two teams started hiking in to Little Giant (one SAR, one friends), and two teams (both friends) drove over to the White River to start up to Boulder Pass. Two teams (both SAR) were held back for a later insert high on Buck. I was in the advance team to Boulder Pass (along with Tim and Kirk) and tried to keep up with Tim as he set the usual blistering pace. We ran into the backpackers who had reported sighting the bivy, they recanted on the tracks part of their story and said that they hadn't really seen anyone in the last couple of days. We took it down to relay to base once we were in radio range.

 

We arrived at Boulder Pass in the late afternoon, dropped stuff and headed up to check out the Walrus Gl and access to the south side of the ridge. We didn't see any sign of human tracks in the snow on the glacier, or on a possible gully route to the south side. We did scope our route around the south side of Clark for the next day, and got a good view of the Butterfly Butte descent. Our plan for Saturday was to climb the south side of Clark, check for any summit register, traverse over to climb Luahna, and descend Butterfly Butte to a camp in the Napeequa. It would be a long day.

 

Friday night was cold (~20F), and a helo equipped with IR did a flyover of all the summits during the night. Nothing. Damn. After a fitful night, Tim and I (Kirk wasn't feeling well) headed up in the dawn gloom to Clark. After crossing to the south side of the ridge we ascended too high and had to drop to find the 7300' crossing of the SE ridge of the false summit. Here is where we ran into TJ's tracks for the first time. They were one-way tracks heading to Clark. About this time, a team from Bellingham SAR were inserted below us, their intent was to climb up and help search our Clark-Luahna route. Rather than wait (the insert looked to be about an hour away), Tim and I bombed down the gully following the tracks over towards Clark.

 

We picked up his tracks again about 8100' on the south side of Clark and followed them upwards. At a notch a hundred feet or so below the summit the tracks dropped away towards Luahna. There was not snow on the final bit to the summit, but we knew that TJ must have visited the summit before heading to Luahna. Tim and I dropped our packs and dashed up to the summit to check if he had signed in. No register, thus no idea of when he signed in (we guessed it would have been Monday).

 

Back at our packs, we scanned for the B'ham SAR folks but couldn't see them. We requested additional resources be inserted ahead of us (or a least some detailed helo search time), but it didn't sound like they were going to send any our way. Not real pleased to be the only folks covering such a big area, Tim and I headed as fast as we could down along TJ's tracks towards Luahna. There were some sketchy parts below the notch (snow over icy rock), and Tim and I were not liking our overnight packs. It mellowed after we got out of the snow and we followed faint tracks in the scree. Along the way we got a good view of the Richardson Gl. and saw no tracks leading to the east ridge of Luahna.

 

This narrowed our search to the SW side of Luahna and we dropped our packs at a notch with Richarson Gl. access (we still planned to descend to Butterfly Butte). We heard over the radio that the B'ham SAR folks were not able to get to Clark because people in their party were uncomfortable with the terrain. Bummed about not getting help, we took the radio, some food, and the binos and traversed around to the SW gully route on Luahna (http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=816480) and began our search. Before heading up towards the summit, we went to a cliff edge and scanned the face above us along with the talus field below. It didn't take Tim long to spot TJ's jacket a couple hundred feet below us. Damn.

 

Tim went down to check out the scene while I climbed up to the ridge to get a radio call out to base. I relayed the jacket's position and requested a helo ASAP to scan the talus field. Watching Chelan's helo hover over the talus field, it was heartbreaking to hear the helo "confirm" that we had found TJ and hear them request the Huey for a winch extraction. I hiked down to meet Tim as he was coming back up from saying goodbye to TJ.

 

Although not totally unexpected after so many days without contact, it was still hard to believe that TJ was really gone. We didn't bother going to the summit to see if he had signed in, it didn't really matter at that point. The Huey came in shortly to begin the extraction and Tim and I hiked down to a LZ to be flown out. Back at Base, sitting with Tim, TJ, and Terry (his dad) was by far the hardest part of the whole hard day. As a father myself, I find it hard to fathom seeing your child dead and broken.

 

 

From what we could see, it appears that TJ took about a 1000' foot fall from very near the summit. He and his gear were found at about 7400' below the W-SW side of Luahna. He could not have survived the fall, so we were somewhat comforted by the fact that he didn't slowly succumb to exposure alone while we were screwing around with rescue plans. How/where exactly/why he fell will probably never be know, but it looked like he fell from some pretty exposed loose terrain. Hold broke? Slipped? Off route? This whole incident really drives home Jake's question: "How many of us could that have been?"

 

TJ was one of the first people I ever swapped leads with; we thought we were so cool when we climbed our first multi-pitch route together- R&D! Placing actual gear- on lead! It is fun to remember cruising over to L-worth in his powder blue bug, listening to tunes- the sort of stuff that pulls us back to the hills time and time again. His optimism, humor, and overflowing enthusiasm will be sorely missed. RIP TJ . . ..

 

-Jason Griffith

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It sure is a true testament of a man when people who knew him would put out such an effort to find him. Kudos to all who helped search. condolences to the family as well.

 

E

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I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. I consider myself a very careful climber, but it easily could be me on this thread considering some of the terrain, solos, and weather conditions I've been involved in. I've only lost one climbing buddy so far and still miss him greatly. I hope you're grief and that of TJ's family and other friends finds comfort and healing. He sounds like a great guy and it is a loss for this world and the climbing community.

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