Karen and Sue
The rescue mission for my friends on Foraker has officially ended, as the rangers believe there is realisticially no hope of finding the two women alive. I've felt this way for some time, but really hoped I was wrong. The rangers will continue to fly with the hope of possibly recovering their bodies or at least gathering some more information on what went wrong. I would like to commend the Rangers and Denali National Park for a job well done both on the rescue and conveying information to the public and friends about what was happening with the search. It's very easy to let a slight mis-wording or piece of bad information turn into something confusing for everyone during a high-profile rescue, yet the rangers kept it very smooth. The rangers also gave a lot of information quickly and accurately; I had some inside information, but was always impressed with how quickly that information was availible publicly--usually within minutes of the families hearing it. I have full faith that the Denali Rangers and everyone else who worked on the rescue did a great job, and that is very comforting. I know Karen and Sue's friends from around the world who followed the rescue on the web appreciated the information even if the news wasn't good. No rescuers were also lost despite hours and hours of dangerous high-altitude flying, which is a testament to the skill and dedication of all involved. Good job and thanks to all who worked on the rescue and conveying information to all of us.
Plans for the memorials to both women are near-finalized. If, against the longest odds imaginable, my friends do somehow show up it will be a joy to cancel their memorials.
I've spent the last week up in the Yukon researching the flying there for a possible paragliding competition the locals want to put on next year. I felt almost guilty at times for chasing thermals while the fate of my two friends was still undecided, but I'm certain that both Karen and Sue would have heckled me mercilessly if I had cancelled the trip because they were missing. That's not a very logical thought, but damned it it doesn't bring a smile to my face.
I'll write something up on flying in the Yukon once I get my feet back under me here, but the short version is that the Yukon has some great flying based on a very active and enthusiastic group of local pilots. Despite being a bit distracted with Karen and Sue I had a fantastic time both flying and "parawaiting" with the locals. Two hours before my flight yesterday afternoon I cored a last thermal, that's how it works in Whitehorse. More later.