Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Updates to this page will be infrequent now. If any news breaks we'll send out emails and phone calls; if you'd like to be on a notification list please email me at

Brian is presumed dead, but we are still seeking to understand how he died, and to find his body. We are tentatively planning a memorial service in Montreal towards the end of September. We are tying up loose ends, and considering if additional looking might be done when the snow and ice on the mountains is most diminished. We are all somewhat stunned, intermittently grieving and puzzled.

I don't have any updates on the MOC search support fund, but if need be we may create a separate fund that can donate to the MOC fund or members.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

We're getting some more trail reports trickling in, including some from people using the form It's a long time for anyone to remember a stranger, but reports of 7/12 and 7/13 trail conditions, numbers of people seen on the trails, places gone, etc may help fill the gap. Of course if anyone had actually spoken with Brian they might remember him.

One person has mentioned the case of Ann Marie Potton, who was lost years ago. Her body heat and some snow buried her in the glacier; when it refroze her body was concealed. I don't think that would happen in late July in Whistler, but I'd welcome any thoughts.

The Question may do a follow-up story, and Marta sent out some updated press releases as well. We updated our thank you page to reference more of the helpful folks in Whistler (

The MOC fund to help with the expenses of the volunteers is getting organized, and I'll put up the mailing information once I have it. I think Marta has returned to Montreal, or she will shortly. My contact information remains or 651-336-5548 (cell).

Sunday, July 28, 2002

I've returned to Minneapolis, but a few people are staying in Whistler for a day or two to hike, explore, and follow-up on loose ends. Marta will be there through Tuesday and is watching over things. The condo lease ended Sunday, so those doing search work may take up an offer of a free room at the Pinnacle.

The McGill Outdoors Club (MOC) has an internal fund going to support those who travelled out to Whistler for the search (including former MOC members who helped out). We'll post an official address, but in the meantime any non-MOC members who would like to contribute can send donations to me: John Faughnan, 1661 Wellesley Avenue. Saint Paul, MN 55105-2007. I'll collect donations and then send them on to the MOC fund for distribution.

We'll be continuing to collect any information that comes in, and we'll be retaining a local private investigator for help with any new information that may arise.
Everyone went to Rainbow mountain. Andre, Michael, Max, Sebastian and Phil (in from Seattle), to the summit. Andre and Michael explored parts of the glacier. Lea and Gambrellli shipped in supplies. Marc and Michelle re-explored the drainage systems of the glacier. Marta, Nick, Bruce and I slogged along the course of Beverly creek, then ascended to the alpine meadow. Mike Hannah, a retired search and rescue veteran, brought five friends and with his daughter explored the far drainage perimeters and the glacier by binocular and vehicle (thanks to Cougar mountain for their help!)

We are all tired, some very tired. We found nothing.

Tomorrow we start home. Some may stay through Tuesday, but most will fly out this Sunday. There is not much more to do here. Unless the media exposures generate an unexpected lead, most of the work is done. There is waiting and mourning.

I said good-bye to Brian as we crossed a ridge and lost sight of Rainbow Mountain. It is a beautiful place, but I may not be eager to return to it.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Today I and four others (Bruce, Max, Michelle and Marc) went up the Rainbow Mountain trail. It was the first time I'd gotten out of the condo except for media interviews. This was my chance to see the trail that Brian is thought to have taken.

It was a benign trail in today's perfect weather. I have not hiked in years, but it was easy to ascend past Rainbow Lake into the beautiful alpine meadows with spectacular views dwarfing those of Whistler. It is spring there, and the flowers are in bloom and the streams run cool and clear. The snow Brian would have walked upon is mostly gone, though in fact this terrain is easier to cross when snow covered. Nothing on the trail today would have greatly challenged Emily, much less Brian. 21 mile creek has been described as impassable, but despite recent snow melt it seemed typical of a Rocky Mountain stream. It would be quite fordable by an experienced hiker if the need should arise, and Brian was both strong and experienced. Even if he were coming down this trail in the dark, with his headlamp he would have managed the trail easily. If somehow he'd been trapped in the rain, there's abundant shelter everywhere. He would have found a reasonably dry spot, thought admittedly there is less snow now than there was.

One has to assume that several things went wrong; none individually so serious, but all together they could have produced this disaster. Perhaps Brian fell and broke both his glasses and his headlamp. It's very hard to guess.

We all assume he would have tried for Rainbow peak had he been on that mountain. None of us have been up there; it is well beyond my skill level. Still, those who have come close believe it is quite doable and should not have presented Brian with great challenges. It is a scramble or walk up, depending on the approach -- not a technical climb. Given Brian's great hiking speed, twice mine, he could have gone up, done the peak, and been down before dark (which is quite late here).

Andre, Michael and Sebastian came down from Wedgemount without a problem. Anton worked on copying a security tape for us and has had to return to Vancouver. He may return if we need him. Kevin has had to return to Montreal, he left early this morning and we miss him. Marc and Michelle are very experienced climbers, it is good to have them here.

We have quite a crew here, and Marta, Nick, Gambrelli, Anton and Lea today finished most of the local work we've identified. At the same time Lea spoke with a retired S&R expert who wishes to join this search. So the plan tomorrow is for all of us to search some selected areas, with each doing areas appropriate for their skill and experience.

The area around Rainbow Mountain is vast. Searching for one person there is like searching a small city, but a city in which there are no inhabitants and in which travel is very challenging. Still, we have a couple of places we would like to visit.

At the moment I have an airplane flight to Minneapolis late Sunday. Most of us may leave Sunday, but Marta is planning to stay on through Tuesday.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

A team of four went up the Wedgemount Lake trail today. Andre, Sebastian and Michael stayed up at the hut, Bruce brought up extra gear and came down today. They found the terrain quite beautiful, it is a place that might have attracted Brian. The area seems relatively easy to survey from the heights however, and no odd signs were seen. The snow on the glaciers is now quite soft and difficult to walk upon. They think by tomorrow that they will have given the accessible region a good review. Compared to Rainbow, where so much energy has been spent, Wedgemount is relatively easy to search. Steven and I also surveyed it by helicopter last week.

Michelle Sirois and Marc arrived today, as did Lea. Anton came back last night and Gambrelli arrived yesterday. So we have Nick, Kevin, Bruce, Lea, Michelle, Marc, Mad Max, Anton, Marta, Gambrelli and me down here, Andre, Sebastian and Michael on the mountain. The MOC has started a fund for the travelers and sent us a "group hug" photo.

We have had no new leads or contacts. It's hard to imagine, given what his friends know of Brian's preferences and behavior, how he could have gotten into trouble off trail yet be so hard to find. The main theories are a slip in a fast moving creek (they are common here), or into a hidden glacial crevasse covered by melting snow. Such signs as there are point to the vast Rainbow Lake area, but there are even larger domains not far from here.

There has been considerable local coverage. Today the Question, which is delivered to every household, put Brian's story on the front page. The Pique area magazine promises a story for tomorrow. I did an interview with local radio today (Mountain FM). The Messenger is circulated to the Whistler-Blackcomb employees, and all 1500 received an email about the story with links to the web page.

I did a 2 minute voice over with Channel 6, a local cable channel. It will be shown with the web address and phone numbers 12 times a day for two weeks. Michelle helped with advice on what to say; mostly things that might remind people of Brian if they met him briefly. (His face gets red like mine, maybe more so with his healed scars.)

Our team sat at many trailheads today and spoke with everyone going into the trails of the Whistler area. Anton distributed posters, including new variants, up as far north as Joffre park, Nick reinterviewed the driver Brian spoke with and filled in some details without fundamental changes. We've stationed ourselves at the local softball games, and we're distributing posters and maybe speaking at a local mountain bike race.

The Messenger story is a big plus, it includes the web site address and really did a good job of telling the story. It's published on Friday with a Wednesday deadline, so this was the earliest a story could have come out. The web site has been redone, with the summary page updated with the latest (minor) details that we have learned.

Darryl (Search and Rescue) tells us that he's rarely seen such a concentrated effort. He's particularly impressed by Brian's friends in the MOC; he feels that he understands Brian and his friends. He's lost friends himself over the years, doing the things they deeply loved. He tells us that the combination of The Pique and The Messenger, on top of what's been done, is a powerful tool. If there's any news that might guide us, it will come from this work and our one-on-one interviews.

Most of us will be here tomorrow, but many must leave by Sunday. It has been a tremendous privilege to work with this team. I feel in many ways that I know and understand Brian much better now than a week past.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Today we created a web page to record trip reports from hikers who were on trails 7/12/02: The thought is that since we can't get any reports of anyone who saw Brian, we try to get reports from people who hiked those trails and didn't see him. A thin reed.

Yesterday I spoke with two locals who have trained rescue dogs and who are familiar both with the region and with search dogs. They are very eager to help and would raise a force in no time -- but they need a starting point and some kind of domain.

Andre and Bruce came down off of Rainbow Mountain. After three days of searching they'd exhausted reasonable opportunities. They saw a lot of helicopter activity; we are told that Blackcomb helicopters has been essentially doing unofficial searches while they fly people around.

We've completed interviews with a local magazine (The Pique) and a local newspaper (the Question). The story will also be in The Messenger, a Blackcomb-Whistler mountain corporate publication. The latter will also send an email to their 1500 employees with the web link.

We've printed and distributed business cards that reference the web site, we distribute them at the "Nesters" plaza outside the supermarket. That's where the locals go, away from the congestion of Whistler proper.

We finally found the right person at BC parks, and they put up posters, questioned rangers, and reviewed the comment boxes (no log boxes) for the provincial parks. This is a real long shot.

We did find that Brian had stored gear at the hostel in Vancouver; things he wasn't going to need on this trip. He left his big pack, his climbing gear, and his GoreTex jacket (perhaps because he'd bought a red jacket at MEC).

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Andre and Sebastian overnighted near Rainbow Lake. Bruce went up to supply them and to switch places with Sebastian who's since come down. They are continuing to explore areas that fit with our scenarios.

Marta's interviews turned up a new contact who works at the Wild Willy outdoor store. He remembers serving Brian Friday am and discussing the Cheakamus trail and the Rainbow Lake trail. In an RCMP statement he said he gave Brian directions to the Rainbow Lake trail and a photocopy of a local trail map. In general this continues to support the theory that Brian hiked Rainbow Lake but Michael and Kevin have added posters to the Cheakamus and Black Tusk trails. They did not have other copies of that map, but we think Brian has a topo of Rainbow Lake and a photocopy of a similar map that showed trails.

Steven has returned to Toronto, Anton was back in Vancouver for a day but has just returned to Whistler. Lea is coming up late Thursday pm.

John and Marta did another set of interviews with BCTV. This was done with a BCTV journalist who hadan unsympathetic spin on Brian's story. We did the best we could to keep to the facts, emphasizing that apparent "risky behavior" (off-trail hiking) must be balanced by a person's experience and skills. What we saw as the result was really not too bad; Marta did a great job. Yesterday's BCTV story was quite sympathetic, as was a Vancouver Sun article.

It is local practice here not to do trail logs, but for people to tell others where they are going. That may not be ideal practice for non-local hiker(s) who do not have local contacts. Brian may well have expected to find a trail log he would register at when he reached the trail head -- that is common practice in the areas most of us have hiked. What he would have seen was a notice saying to notify others of his plans; which would have meant hiking back to a phone and then making a collect call to somewhere.

Local knowledge of Brian is pretty good among the residents. The key we are looking for is anyone who met him on any trail. At the time Brian started, on any trail, people must have come down as he was going up. An enhanced web page has an almost full length photo (thanks Nicolai!) that might be more recognizable, see We've also added pictures of Brian in sunglasses and in contacts. New posters have been produced and distributed with the new photo, they are on the site.

We discussed dogs with two local experts who know rescue and know the terrain. Both were very warm hearted and sympathetic, as have been all the residents and hikers we've met. They tell us they will drop everything and assemble a team -- but they need a starting point and a searchable domain.

Nick and Max have joined our group and they bring a great deal of new energy and some excellent perspectives. Tomorrow is more work putting up new posters, doing interviews, and other basic investigative work.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Today we have been working in 5 teams:

- Sebastian and Andre have moved into the Rainbow Lake area to explore any areas that they think might have attracted Brian assuming our baseline scenario. They will be up for two days.
- Steven and Anton reviewed lift ticket security video, we are confident Brian did not take the lifts to some of the high trails.
- Marta has been interviewing local people and placing posters.
- Bruce and Michael are exploring the areas below Rainbow creek, they will return for dinner.
- John and Steven have been doing media interviews. The web site has been redone; and have been updated, along with a new "missing" page at . Vancouver channel 11 has videotaped Steven and John and Marta and Anton for regional television and they will promote the web page. The Vancouver Sun is doing photos this afternoon and the local papers are both running stories. The focus is on getting more sightings or tips that would justify a focal search.

We've again evaluated dog searches, but know one with any experience in recovery within these domains has expressed any enthusiasm. We do have some dog related emails to follow-up.

Our next focus will probably be on the private detective domain, finding someone to review what we know and suggest new directions or intensified focus. The RCMP has an open missing persons file, and we will work with them as much as possible to keep that file current.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Today was a warm and beautiful day in Whistler, but we have not had success.

I arrived in Vancouver late yesterday and met with Brian's MOC comrades at Anton's about 1am. We arrived in Whistler about 8:30 and went to work. The team included Anton, Andre, Marta, Sebastian, Michael, Bruce, Kevin and Philip and myself. We met up with Steven, who guided us through the local bureaucracy. Excluding myself, this is is an impressive group.

After a day's work we are settled into a condominium in the "upper village". The unit phone number is 604-905-0911. My cell phone here is 604-907-0957 (my Sprint number doesn't work here). Anton has given me his ISP number, and I can now dial in and check email.

We've received many helpful suggestions, which I'll answer here:

1. Checking local hospitals: we checked up on that, mostly done but there's one we'd like to verify.
2. Running VISA, bank cards, etc. The RCMP did do that, and if the cards are used the RCMP will be alerted.
3. Reaching local media: Our landlord is very familiar with local publishers and I'll call them tomorrow.

Today we split up into several groups:

1. One group spent most of the time meeting with the RCMP and the SAR group and setting things up. Steven and I also did a private helicopter survey of an area that had not been reviewed.
2. One group bushwhacked up another route to learn the terrain and evaluate one small area.
3. One group reviewed the video of Brian leaving the lodge last 10 days ago and decided he did have the yellow pack and it was about 2/3 full. They also looked for trail logs and distributed posters that Steven had made.
4. Back in Montreal Elaine and Rachel inventoried items Brian had not brought to help confirm our sense of what he had and what his intent was. Chris went through the computers Brian used looking for any clues.

Overall the RCMP has concluded their formal search, unless we and their authorization of the SAR searches --- unless we can turn up additional clues to guide a new search.

We are meeting tomorrow with a representative of SAR to guide our actions, such as work with local media, more posters, exploring focal terrain areas, etc.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Early in the active search has the baseline information about Brian, but I'll post ongoing updates here.

Thanks to the kindness of a stranger who came across the web page, and who has a wealth of knowledge earned a terrible price, we have a leg up on media contacts. She has reinforced the value of a dog team and referred us to a Seattle based team and to to a BC aquatics rescue group. I have emailed the team and am awaiting follow-up.

In Whistler we will look for a base, either office space or a condominium.

Updates from Nicolaï responding to the web page (thanks Nicolai!)

The first thing that comes to mind is the mention of ice climbing. I am sure Brian did not attempt any ice climbing.
Regarding the hitchhiking, I am sure he would try hitchhiking to get around.
I'm sure he did not bring more than one sleeping bag to BC.
He is quite likely to venture off trails.
If he had become lost he would eventually find his way. I believe it is more likely he suffered any injury preventing him from walking around.
Brian has a large The North Face backpack. I believe it was partly black with some large patches of colour. I don't know if he brought this pack with him. A 60 litre pack such as the one mentioned on your web page would be too small for Brian's gear.
Before his last accident Brian was capable of hiking considerably more than 10 miles in one day. Since he would have planned on coming back to his starting point I believe the farthest he would have traveled from there is around 10 miles.
I don't think Brian would have much trouble walking on snow, rocks, or scree.
Update 1/25/11: I revised a link to eliminate a redirect and I added a title.
There are 4-6 of Brian's friends assembling in Vancouver. I'm looking to rent a condo in the Whistler area and maybe to rent a larger vehicle.

We are pursuing a standard missing person track in addition to a accident/lost in wilderness "track". We plan to engage a detective in the Vancouver area and to work on media contacts and poster production. Anyone with ideas or experience please contact me. Email will work while I travel, I will post my canadian cell number here when I have one.
Updates will be at this site from now on. Unfortunately I can't turn off the ads, they require PayPal payment and I'm not registered for that yet.

The searches of 7/19 have fairly completely covered the day hike domain around Brian's lodge. Nothing has been found, the impression of the Search and Rescue team is that most accidents that might have occurred in that area have been ruled out. There is nothing to say that Brian didn't hitchike to another area. We'd like to know if he did much trailhead hitchhiking. As I move out to Vancouver trying to attract local media coverage may be a useful strategy.

I (John F) am scheduled to travel to Vancouver Saturday night. I will meet up with Michael Leung, Andre Fluerasu and Phil ? at Anton's in Vancouver (604-730-5750). My cell phone will not work any longer, but Andre's phone is 514-502-4914. Steven Faughnan's phone is 416-520-1738. I will post a cell phone number for me once I get one that works in Canada.

Friday, July 19, 2002

I've created this site at to provide updates when I'm traveling. has the baseline information about Brian.