Joe Puryear-the highly respected American alpinist-died while climbing Labuch Kang (7367 meters) in Tibet. Puryear, a Washington native, fell while ascending a ridge when a cornice gave way. His partner David Gottlieb was following, saw Joe’s tracks end at the broken cornice, and descended 1,500 feet to find Puryear did not survive the fall. Gottlieb was able to report the tragic news via satellite phone.
Puryear, originally of Yakima, WA and a former climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, was 37 years old and is survived by his wife Michelle. The couple lived in Leavenworth, WA. Articles on the Yakima Herald and the Tacoma News Tribune describe Joe’s background and accomplishments as a ranger and climber. His many blogs, including climbnepal.blogspot.com, documented his many remote, high altitude expeditions and climbtibet.blogspot.com chronicled the recent days of the Labuche Kang climb.
The news of Joe’s death made its way to Tashi Sherpa, founder of Sherpa Adventure Gear at daybreak on Oct. 27. Since 2006, Puryear was a trusted and important advisor to Sherpa Adventure Gear, as a climbing athlete and product tester and developer. His frequent trips to the Himalayas always included a stop in Kathmandu at the company’s manufacturing headquarters, where he assisted in refining details on products under development. Puryear’s work as a photographer-through his company Cascade Images-graced Sherpa Adventure Gear’s catalogs, which he also designed.
It was the second loss in just a few days deeply affecting Sherpa Adventure Gear. Brand ambassador and mountain guide Chhewang Nima Sherpa perished in Nepal on Mt. Baruntse last week.