LUZERNE COUNTY — Investigators said Francis Keenan, 28, of Lackawanna County, died while climbing the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere, located in Argentina.
According to reports, Keenan and his climbing partner, who was from Wisconsin, set out last month to climb Mount Aconcagua.
On New Years Eve, authorities said they got a rescue beacon alert from the climbers.
Then this week, the two bodies were found.
Keenan lived in the Clarks Summit area in Lackawanna County, according to those who knew him.
“It’s really to sad to hear that someone who loved it had to die,” said Daniel McCloe of Wilkes-Barre.
At Wilkes-Barre Rock Climbing Gym, rock climbers and mountaineers reacted to the news of the deaths.
They said they know the dangers, but they love what they do.
“It’s a huge rush. It’s a great experience. You get physically fit, you have a great time doing it, it’s a challenge, it’s problem solving and also there’s a really great community involved as well,” said Patrick McKamy, a volunteer at the gym.
“When you are doing it, you are so focused on what you are doing, you just forget anything that is going on in life, so it’s very relaxing, even though it’s so physically challenging,” said McCloe.
Those who knew Keenan described him as an experienced climber.
A fellow climber from Florida said Keenan has climbed serious peaks before, including mountains in Ecuador and Mount Rainier in Washington.
“You want to find out what happened so you can hopefully prevent something from happening again,” said McKamy.