A Wisconsin mountain climber and his partner have died in Argentina, while climbing on the highest peak in the Americas. Jarod VonRueden, 22, of Clyman in Dodge County and climbing partner Francis Keenan, 28, from Pennsylvania were just below the summit of Aconcagua on New Year’s Eve when a rescue beacon was activated, triggering a search which culminated with the discovery of the men’s bodies in a crevice.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that VonRueden left December 15th for the climb on the Andean peak. He applied for the climbing permits December 18th, and he and Keenan arrived at the mountain’s base December 23rd.
VonRuden’s family was notified by the U.S. Air Force that the rescue beacon, registered to VonRueden, was activated on December 31st. Sunday night brought news that the mission had changed from a rescue to a recovery. As of Tuesday, crews still were working out logistics for retrieval of the men’s bodies, held back by severe weather on the mountain.
VonRueden was a graduate of Watertown High School and was studying to be an emergency medical technician. An active climber he summited Alaska’s Mount McKinley this past summer. He also had backpacked through the Grand Canyon and once bicycled from Wisconsin to Montana.