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, Washington and a former climbing ranger on Mount Rainier, was 37 years old and is survived by his wife Michelle. The couple lived in Leavenworth, Washington. 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 October 27th.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.
Tsedo Sherpa of Sherpa Adventure Gear issued this statement:
“In another tragic turn of events, our dear friend Joe Puryear lost his life yesterday while climbing a peak in Tibet. Joe was the epitome of the supreme mountain athlete, the intrepid climber always venturing into unknown regions and making paths on routes never traveled before with his climbing partner Dave Gottlieb. And this is how he went, doing something he loved so much. His was the unparalleled vision for fantastic photography which helped create our beautiful catalogs every season. His low key demeanor, his wry sense of humor and his unfiltered honesty endeared him greatly to every one of us in our Sherpa family, be it here in the US or in Nepal. We will forever be grateful to Joe that he saw our dream and never hesitated to give us his friendship and support. We miss you already Joe.”
About Sherpa Adventure Gear
Sherpa Adventure Gear was founded in 2003 by Tashi Sherpa, who was inspired to start the company when he discovered that his uncle was one of the Sherpa on Sir Edmund Hilary’s celebrated first-ever expedition to the top of Mount Everest in 1953.Sherpa Adventure Gear—which manufacturers apparel for mountain adventures—honors the unsung Sherpa heroes who make high altitude Himalayan climbs possible for others by carrying the loads, laying the ropes and guiding the way.Sherpa athlete-ambassadors test and help design Sherpa Adventure Gear products, most of which are manufactured in Nepal in company-owned facilities. Sherpa Adventure Gear employs over 150 people in Nepal, and in 2009, furthered its local commitment when it opened the flagship Sherpa Gear House store and The Terrace bed and breakfast to welcome trekkers and climbers to Kathmandu. The Renton, Washington-based company also gives back to the Sherpa community by donating a portion of every sale to organizations that benefit their future, such as the Sherpa Education Fund.