Thursday, June 08, 2006

Clouds hamper search

From the AP in Alaska:

Mount Foraker remained shrouded by clouds today, casting doubt on plans for a high-altitude search for missing climbers Sue Nott of Vail and Canadian Karen McNeill.

“Right now it’s socked in at the base camp,” said Kris Fister, spokeswoman for Denali National Park and Preserve.

The search is in its eighth day Thursday.

Nott and McNeill left their base camp May 12, and began their climb of the ascent route, the Infinite Spur, on May 14. The climbers had told people at base camp that they expected to complete the route in 10 to 14 days.

An air taxi operator and others familiar with the women’s plans flew the climbing route early last week.

The women, at the urging of people at base camp, carried a radio. The radio, a ripped backpack believed to be Nott’s, and a sleeping bag were spotted Friday in an avalanche debris field. A helicopter crew on Sunday spotted a yellow bag, black fleece hat and pink nylon jacket in the same area.

With each passing day the chances that the two women are alive is diminished, Fister said. It is believed the two have been without food and fuel for a week to 10 days, she said.

Fister said the agency’s search efforts would continue until the areas of highest probability were searched as thoroughly as possible.

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