Michael Reardon, 36, the accomplished free soloist based out of Oak Park, California, went missing off the southwestern coast of Ireland around 5 p.m. Friday. He had just completed a climb near the Valentia Marine Radio Station, on the small island of Valentia, when a rogue wave took him into the sea. He did not fall 70 feet from the cliff top, or while climbing, as earlier reports had indicated. This is a report from his friend, the photographer Damon Corso, who was there at the time:
“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 15 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 rogue 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 15 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.”
Rescue services worked until dark on Friday. And on Saturday, more Coast Guard boats and divers from the Naval Service combed the area, with searchers on foot looking along the shore. A helicopter with an infrared scanner searched on Friday and Saturday as well. Reardon had not been found as of Sunday, when it was reported that the search was scaling back.
Matt Samet, a friend of Michael's has just flown to Ireland to attend a memorial gathering of his family and friends that will take place this Tuesday 17/07 at 4pm. This gathering will take place at the Fogher Cliffs, adjacent to the Coast Guard Station, where Michael was taken from us. All are welcome to attend.