Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Alpine Accidents in Canada: Entry for Brian

I don't remember seeing this before. It's an entry in the Alpine Club of Canada's database of climbing accidents. I don't know when it was written, it is remarkably well done. I came across it via an email from someone who'd hiked Rainbow recently. One caveat is that we never knew for sure that Brian actually started up the Rainbow Lake trail, only that he seemed to be headed that way when he left the Hostel. The search by friends and family was actually in the same week as the official search. I didn't remember anything about a post-melt aerial search but that's certainly plausible. I've copied it here for the record.
Alpine Accidents in Canada

Date: 12 Jul 2002
Location: Rainbow Lake - Whistler
Province: British Columbia
Park or Region: Whistler

Topo Map: 92 J/2 Whistler; 92 J/3 Brandywine

Route: unknown (16 km. return, 825 m. gain)
Type: Hiking
Persons Killed: 1
Persons Injured: 0
Type of Injuries: unknown

Search and rescue efforts, Grouse Mtn.
Photo by: BC Search and Rescue Association

Description: B.F. was last seen Friday July 12, 2002 in the vicinity of the Shoestring Lodge, Whistler, BC Canada. On Thursday afternoon, near Brandywine creek, he discussed the Rainbow Trail with Steve, his tour bus driver. He showed Steve the Brandywine topo map, and Steve described an ascent to Rainbow peak as a very enjoyable 9.5 hour day hike. Later that night. On Friday July 12th B.F. told this roommates that he would go out seeking a peak and snow, and might not return for the next day's bus departure. A security video recorded him leaving the Shoestring Lodge at 0957 with a full day pack. At 1030 he asked directions of Steve (bus driver) to the Valley Trail (and not the Rainbow Trail). He likely had crampons and an ice-axe with him, but was not carrying a sleeping bag and was likely not carrying a tent. He was probably carrying the 103 Hikes in Southwestern British Columbia book, the Brandywine topographic map (See 103 Hikes Information), and a photocopied portion of the Whistler Area Topographic and Street Map. The weather was sunny and pleasant that Friday, as it had been for a few days. By 0300 Saturday July 12th the weather changed to rainy, cooler and overcast. It remained that way until July 18th. The tour group left for their next destination Saturday July 13th at 0800. B.F. was not on board. Lodge checkout was later in the day. His gear was found in the room at that time. He left behind his passport, his day planner, his sleeping bag, clothing, and a diskette with some of his film writing work on it. The hotel checked with the adventure tour company, and when they learned he was not on the bus they contacted the RCMP at 1516 on July 15th (see contacts, below). His family was notified Tuesday July 16th, 2002 that he was missing. On Wed July 17th the RCMP activated the Whistler Search and Rescue team after his brother traveled to Whistler to meet with the RCMP. A search and rescue effort began Wednesday, July 17th 2002. It was as intense as the weather allowed, but the helicopter flights were limited by a low ceiling. On Thursday, July 18th, the Search and Rescue team and his brother spent the day interviewing people, reviewing data, checking purchase records and planning. On Friday July 19th the most intense search began under improving conditions, focusing on the Rainbow/Sproat Peak area with no findings. The RCMP then placed the search on hold. On Sunday, July 21, a limited search in the same region was triggered by reports of a footprint, but that was determined to be a false clue. On Sunday July 21 the RCMP terminated the search but maintains a missing person file. Later that summer friends and relatives commenced their own search of the trails and terrain in the area, but were unsuccessful in finding further clues. A further aerial sweep of ice covered areas around Rainbow Peak was planned during this season's maximal melt time, in case his body had been exposed. UPDATE:The search for B.F. was futile and has been officially terminated. A memorial service is planned for September 28, 2002.

Analysis: The overwhelming likelihood is that B.F. experienced a fatal accident while hiking alone and off trail and that his body is inaccessible....

Rescue Mode: still missing



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