American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, China, Dazu Shan, Mt. Edgar, Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2010

Mt. Edgar, tragedy. In late May Colorado residents Jonny Copp, Micah Dash, and Wade Johnson lost their lives in an avalanche below the southeast face of Mt. Edgar (E Gongga, 6,618m). The face was a much talked about objective, which has received wide publicity due to photos published by prolific Japanese explorer Tamotsu Nakamura. With Nick Rosen of Sender Films, who with Johnson hoped to document part of the expedition for a National Geographic TV series, the three established base camp below the mountain in May.

Rosen returned to Colorado, and on May 15 the remaining three left their liaison officer to establish an advanced base camp. They returned to base, having cached gear and food at a suitable site, reported to be five hours above when carrying a heavy load.

On the 20th Copp, Dash, and Johnson moved up toward advanced base. Dash and Copp would attempt the peak, while Johnson remained in camp. Nothing was heard from them after that date. When they failed to return to base camp and then missed their flight home, on June 3, Rosen alerted authorities.

On June 5 Guo Jie and Li Zong Li, of the Sichuan Mountaineering Association, discovered a body at 4,000m on the route between base camp and advanced base. Two days later Ci Luo and Li Fu Qing, of the Chinese Mountaineering Association in Beijing, discovered a second body 300m distant. The rescuers were able to identify the first body as Copp and the second as Johnson. There was no sign of Dash, though rescuers later found some of his gear in the vicinity.

In the meantime four experienced American mountaineers, Eric DeCaria, Nick Martino, Steve Su, and Pete Takeda, who were close friends of the three climbers, had been busy arranging flights and obtaining visas in order to assist with the search. On the 11th they helped the Chinese remove both bodies from avalanche debris in a wide couloir leading toward the face. The search for Dash’s body was eventually called off; the area, frequently bombarded by rockfall and avalanche, was deemed too dangerous, and by this time chances of locating Dash or his remains seemed unlikely.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO

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