Joe Puryear was killed on Wed., October 27th while ascending Labuche Kang (7,367 meters, 24,170 feet) in a remote region of Tibet. While many of you are familiar with Joe’s history—here are a few notes from an email written by his friend, Mike Gottlieb, and a note posted on the climbtibet.blogspot.com by his wife, Michelle.
“Joe was a former climbing ranger on Mount Rainier and one of America’s elite alpinists. He joined the staff at Camp Schurman in 1996 with Mark Westman and Lara Bitenieks. They represented a new cadre of skilled climbers who together helped changed the way our climbing rangers did business and served the public for the National Park Service. For two years, Joe led the climbing rangers on the east side of Mount Rainier and participated in many difficult rescues.
He was greatly respected for his climbing skills and ability to manage complex situations both on the mountain and in the front country. Joe’s talents led him to pursue a career in alpinism and along the way he authored books on climbing in the Alaska Range and in the desert SW of America. Most recently, he and David Gottlieb received prestigious climbing grants (Mugs Stump, Gore, and Lyman Spitzer) in order to ascend unclimbed peaks and frozen waterfalls in Nepal and Tibet. He was exploring uncharted territory with climbing partner, David Gottleib.”
“On Wednesday October 27, David and Joe started their route on LaBouche Kang. It was finally a clear and beautiful day. Joe was very excited about the climb as he and David set out. Early on in the climb they were ascending a knife edge ridge and Joe went ahead to scout the route. David said Joe was smiling and kept looking back giving the thumbs up. Joe went around a rock outcropping and disappeared from sight. David following came around the corner and what appeared to be a continuation of the ridge, had given way and revealed a cornice. Joe had apparently stepped out onto the snow, which gave way and he fell 700 feet to his death. David was able to repel down to Joe’s body. David reported that Joe died on impact and did not suffer. He was able to retrieve the SAT phone and call. David is devastated, but strong and in good health. He has returned to base camp and is awaiting help from Global Rescue.”
A fund is being set up to help Joe’s family as they travel to Kathmandu to recover his body. http://climbtibet.blogspot.com/.
Another way to help Joe’s family is to purchase one of his magnificent mountain photos at JoePuryearImages.com.