Michael Reardon, accomplished free soloist. Reardon was pulled into the Atlantic Ocean at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 13, by a rogue wave that hit Rinn na Droilan, a north-facing wall on Fogher Cliffs, Valentia Island, County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. Extensive searches have produced no leads. A memorial service is planned for tomorrow, July 17. [Photo] Mark Niles
Reknowned free soloist Michael Reardon (36) disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 13, after a rogue wave swept him off a platform near the base of Rinn na Droilan, a north-facing wall on Fogher Cliffs, Valentia Island, County Kerry, southwestern Ireland. The Coast Guard began looking for Reardon fifteen minutes after the accident occurred. They have found no leads; on Sunday, searches began waning. A memorial service is planned for tomorrow, July 17.
The first reports claimed that Reardon had fallen–either from the top, or while climbing–into the water. However, an Irish website, www.climbing.ie, stated that Reardon was packing his gear when the wave took him. Eyewitness Damon Corso, who was photographing Reardon from the opposite side of the inlet when the accident occurred, similarly reported on www.climbing.com that Reardon had completed his climbs when the wave ripped him from the wall and carried him 150 meters offshore:
“It was just another day of climbing on Atlantic sea cliffs in Ireland with Mike [Reardon]. We had arrived on Valentia Island in a slight fog and drizzle. Mike took me around the bottom of Wireless Point to an inlet merely fifteen feet above the roaring Atlantic, a situation we were now used to. We arrived at a spot he had climbed at alone two weeks prior. Mike up and downed two different climbs while I shot photos trying to combine him and the raw force of the waves crashing all around us. He finished the two climbs and was waiting, on an algae-covered platform, for the big swells to pass by so that he could walk back over to me on the opposite side of the inlet. A rouge wave came into the inlet and curved rightwards as it crashed into Mike. He tried to stabilize himself on the platform but the water was too powerful and sucked him in. The current pulled Mike out 150-plus meters in mere seconds. I ran up the hill to the Valentia Coast Guard station a mile away. Mike was still conscious in the water when I left him. The Coast Guard arrived on the scene no more than fifteen minutes after the incident. Mike was nowhere to be seen at this point. Twelve volunteer rescue boats, the Coast Guard Lifeboat and Chopper were on the scene that evening.”
Boats, divers and on-shore teams continued to scour the area on Saturday. No traces of Reardon were discovered.
Family and friends of Reardon will be gathering for a memorial service at Fogher Cliffs this Tuesday, July 17 at 4 p.m., according to www.climbing.ie. All are welcome to attend.
Reardon, based out of Oak Park, California, has been known for his numerous free solos of long, difficult routes. In particular Reardon has been credited with solos of Romantic Warrior (V 5.12b), Sea of Tranquility (V 5.11d) and the first ascent solo of Shikata Ga Nai (IV/V 5.12) at the Needles in California, and hundreds of others, including more than 200, up to 5.12+, in Ireland.