Specialized crew on standby in Alaska to continue search for missing climbers

Marc-Andre Leclerc of Squamish, B.C., and his Alaskan climbing partner Ryan Johnson were reported missing on March 7.

Rescuers waiting for better weather before resuming hunt for Marc-Andre Leclerc, of Squamish, and Ryan Johnson

Marc Andre Leclerc spent 10 years training for the Alaskan mountain range where he disappeared, a family friend said. He's shown here in an undated handout photo. (Marc Andre Leclerc/HO/Canadian Press)

A highly trained rescue group based in southwest Alaska says its members are ready to join the search for a missing B.C. man and his climbing companion if the weather is suitable today.

Members of Juneau Mountain Rescue flew in an Alaska Army National Guard helicopter on Monday during a brief break in the weather over the Mendenhall Icefield, about 20 kilometres north of Juneau.

A post on the rescue group's website says crews only had a short time over the Mendenhall Towers before the weather closed in, and there was no sign of Marc-Andre Leclerc, 24, and climbing partner Ryan Johnson, 34.

But rescuers say they are looking forward to a more promising forecast and they hope to get a better look at the north face of the main tower, which Leclerc and Johnson scaled March 5.

The pair posted a photo and several social media messages from the top, but haven't been heard from since, and foul weather has complicated search efforts since last week.

Leclerc, from Squamish B.C., is considered a gifted climber.

A profile on the online version of Alpinist Magazine says over the last few years he has astounded climbing communities around the world with feats including the first solo ascents of two challenging peaks in South America.

The climber has worked with Arc'teryx as a sponsored athlete for five years. Company spokesperson John Irvine described Leclerc and Johnson as extremely experienced athletes.

"Both of these guys are very, very experienced and very thoroughly prepared," Irvine said Monday. 

Marc-Andre Leclerc at the summit of Torre Egger in Patagonia in 2016. (Marc-Andre Leclerc/Instagram)

Irvine said the company chose to sponsor Leclerc because of his skill and because he's "a visionary."

"He's really good at sharing his passion for the sport, he's a great public speaker and he's really inspiring in that regard and he's giving — he gives back a lot," Irvine said.

"He just encourages people to get out and get a piece of that magic."

With files from CBC News