msnbc.com
updated 8/29/2010 2:34:19 AM ET 2010-08-29T06:34:19

A melting Canadian glacier has given up the well-preserved body of an American climber missing 21 years, Canadian media reported Saturday.

Two hikers on a day trip found the body of William Holland, 38, of Gorham, Maine, on Aug. 15, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper said.

Holland disappeared while hiking a treacherous route known as Slipstream, a frozen waterfall on a 11,338-foot peak called Snow Dome on the Columbia Icefields in April 1989, CBC News said.

Parks Canada rescue specialist Garth Lemke told The Canadian Press news service that the glacier ice that covered the body had melted, leaving an eerie scene.

"By the time we got there the body was fully exposed. We didn't have to chip the body out at all," Lemke told the news service. "He was generally skin and bones, having quite a mummified look to him. His clothes and gear were relatively intact, and if you look at where he was, he was basically in a deep freeze for the last 21 years."

Holland was found with spiked boots on his feet and rope slung over his shoulder, the Citizen said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have notified Holland's family, the CBC said.

Hazardous route
Lemke told CBC that the Snow Dome route has many hazards and several people have died while climbing Slipstream.

In April 1989, Holland "walked too close to a cornice, which failed and took him away with it, tumbling down the side of the mountain about 1,000 feet," Lemke told CBC, citing park Canada reports from 1989.

Weather battered Holland's climbing partner, Chris Dube, and another two-person climbing party, the Citizen said.

The three eventually reached a highway where they summoned help, the reports said.

Rescuers searched the following day only to discover the area was obliterated by an ice fall, the Citizen said.

Lemke said Holland was presumed to have perished, The Canadian Press said.

Others die on climbs
Lemke told the news service there are at least two other cases of climbers in Jasper National Park who've gone missing since the 1970s and are presumed dead. He said there are at least another two in the Mount Robson area as well.

Holland's body had moved down the mountain with the glacier, Lemke told The Canadian Press.

"Glaciers are constantly moving," Lemke explained. "What starts at the top will eventually work its way out at the bottom."

The last time someone died on the route was in the mid 1990s when three people died from an avalanche, Steve Blake of Parks Canada told the Citizen. Though it took six months, all three bodies were eventually recovered, which Blake said is typical.

Blake told the Citizen that Holland "was a well-prepared mountainist, and he was by all means up to the task of the climb. He just made a judgment error getting to the edge."

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