Monday, June 8, 2009

missing climbers

A renowned alpinist who grew up in Fullerton and learned to climb at Tahquitz, Suicide and Joshua Tree has died in an avalanche on a remote peak in southwest China, according to a search-and-rescue spokesman in Colorado.

A search for two other American climbers who were with him continued today on Mount Edgar in Sichuan Province.

The body of 35-year-old Jonathan "Jonny" Copp was found in avalanche debris and positively identified Sunday, a friend and colleague of Copp said in Boulder, Colo.

"Our deepest condolences and love go to all of Jonny’s family and friends -- and that list of people is so long," Robb Shurr said in a statement. "He will be sorely missed, but we celebrate his inspiring and amazing life."

The climbers who remained missing are Micah Dash, 32, a native of Lancaster in Los Angeles County, and Wade Johnson, 24, of Arden Hills, Minn.

Copp, Dash and Johnson were all based in Boulder, where Shurr and others were soliciting donations and coordinating search-and-rescue efforts with Chinese authorities.

"We are deeply grateful to the Chinese climbers and rescue workers who have been doing everything possible on the ground to carry out the search," Shurr said.

Other American climbers have flown to China to join the search.

Copp, Dash and Johnson were last heard from May 20 at the base of Mount Edgar. They had been scheduled to fly out of Chengdu, Sichuan's capital, but did not show up for the flight.

Johnson is a photographer, film editor and producer with Sender Films, a maker of climbing and adventure videos based in Boulder.

Sender Films states on its Web site that "Copp and Dash are highly experienced alpinists and professional climbers" who went to Mount Edgar after receiving a Mugs Stump Award grant for their current expedition from the American Alpine Club.

Copp and Dash had teamed on prior expeditions, including the first ascent of the Shafat Fortress in Kashmir, India.

Tributes to Copp, Dash and Johnson have been posted here.


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