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Teams take to cliffs to find missing Mount Marathon runner

Casey Grove

Searchers continued to scour Mount Marathon on Saturday, looking for missing runner Michael LeMaitre, who vanished during Seward's annual Fourth of July race on the mountain.

Teams were attempting to access a steep area, one of the last unexplored places in the search for the 66-year-old that is now entering its fourth day, said Beth Ipsen, a spokeswoman for the Alaska State Troopers.

"They're trying to clear an area of cliffs that's very technical and dangerous," Ipsen said.

LeMaitre was last seen near the mountain's top and was either the last racer there or one of the last at about 6 p.m. Wednesday. An air and ground search began that night and continued through the week.

The search effort turned Saturday to a large area north of the mountain, marked by many gullies, Ipsen said. About 35 searchers on the ground, organized by the fire department, were "beating the bushes," and another 30 or so from the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group were using climbing gear to search steeper areas, she said. A search dog also tried to pick up LeMaitre's scent Saturday and a helicopter carrying a photographer taking high-resolution photos of the mountain's back side flew overhead, Ipsen said.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, LeMaitre had not been found.

Anybody hoping to help should first contact the Seward Fire Department, Ipsen said. Only experienced mountaineers and rescuers should attempt a search, she said. "This is pretty treacherous terrain."

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.


By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News