The Torngat Private Search Expedition
My Trip Report
In August of 2003, Daniel Pauze and Susan Barnes went missing climbing the highest point in Quebec and Labrador : Mount D'Iberville/Caubvick. My friend Roland was best friends with Dan (and had also been friends with Sue for 10 years), and, when search efforts in 2003 failed to locate any trace of Sue and Dan, Roland, along with Jack Bennett (writer of the 'Not won in a day' canadian highpointer guidebook) organized an expedition to go and search for them in 2004.
I had met Roland some years before at an Alpine Club of Canada slideshow. I was showing my slides of a recent climb of Mount Rainier I had done in Washington, and Roland was quite interested. It turned out that he and his brother and a friend (Dan) were going to climb the mountain themselves, and he was doing background research. Not long afterwards, I was invited to Roland's downtown Ottawa apartment to meet with himself, brother Rudy, and Dan. We discussed Rainier: I gave them my experiences of the route I took, left maps, books. Little did I know it would be the one and only time I would meet Dan.
In early December of 2003, Roland called me to ask if I wanted to join a search expedition to look for Dan and Sue on Mount Caubvick/D'Iberville. I remember being taken aback by the idea of being on a search team and looking for missing persons.... And I remember asking him lots of questions but not agreeing just then. I needed to think it all over. In the end, I decided to go, and he expressed his relief. He wanted to have some friends and local people on this trip, which were up to that point mostly American highpointers of which he had no real knowledge.
For the next 8 months, Roland and Jack worked over the complicated logistics of organizing such a large group. Towards the end of the planning, Roland especially invested huge amounts of time and energy into planning and preparation, spending an average of several hours per day, every day, seven days a week. Satellite phones, Radios, training sessions, flights, charter flights, co-ordination with authorities, tracking down every last detail about Sue and Dan's movements, correlating gear purchases, talking with witnesses, preparing maps, waivers, schedules.... These were just some of the things that occupied a huge amount of his time.
Discussing the harness
Towards the leave date I, along with other friends of Roland, pitched in as well. I did a lot of map and pre-trip presentation work, in order to give the search team a good overview of what we thought had happened up to when Dan and Sue went missing. The trip was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, August 3, with a ride to a hotel in Montreal Quebec. Roland had organized a 1-day Search-And-Rescue crash course, just to get everyone thinking in a 'search' frame of mind, and to get everyone generally on the same page.
Luc waiting for Nic
At the last minute, we get an addition to our team. Seems that there is interest in the media about our story. One documentary producer in particular, Andy Pederson, is interested in shooting a documentary about our expedition and the search for Sue and Dan. He's managed to get funding from the CBC and the National Film Board of Canada. After consulting with the family and the team members, it is decided to allow the idea of the documentary to proceed, and so, Andy hires a video-photographer, Francois Senecal-Tremblay, a climber/photographer, and adds him to our team. Francois is from Montreal, and is an experienced Filmer, Climber and outdoorsperson.
The four points Sheraton Inn
We drive to Montreal in the SAR (Search-and-rescue) instructor's minivan, myself, Roland and Luc (a long-time climbing friend who I helped recruit for the more technical aspect of the searching). Arriving at the hotel after dark, we first meet the entire search time. Very strange meeting a bunch of people that you've never met but conversed with by e-mail for a long time. Everyone looks different than you expect! Luc pulls me aside with a strained look on his face. He's forgotten his backpacking boots in Ottawa! Aghggh!
The group meets for first time
Roland explaining to Jack
The next day we sit in the clean and bright conference room at the hotel and we get our crash SAR course. Hasty searches, purposeful wandering, map information, and various other bits and pieces of SAR lore are quickly covered. We get to know our team-mates a little better, and they are an interesting and mixed bunch, many with impressive climbing credentials on big peaks of the world. Here's who all was on our teams:
- Jack Bennett,
Author of Not Won in a Day and the first Canadian highpointer
(and has a guiness world record entry for it, too), from Ohio.
Dan and Sue drove down to visit and consult with him before their
- Roland Hanel,
good friend of Dan's and climbing buddy. Ottawa, Ontario
- Bill Salter, from
- Billie Butterfield,
from Seattle, Washington. Teacher of the concept of the Epic
- Greg Slayden,
from Seattle, Washington (runs the site peakbagger.com,
a very well-known mountain web site)
- Jim Rickard
and Katherine Rickard, from Denver, Colorado. Jim and Katherine
flew on the same charter flight into the Torngats with Dan and
- John Howie,
from Hamilton, Ontario
- Tom Potter,
from Mississauga, Ontario
- myself (Andrew
Lavigne), from Ottawa, Ontario
- Luc Alary,
from Ottawa, Ontario.
- Mitch Sheldon,
from Barrington, North Hampshire.
- Sue Richman,
from South Portland, Maine
- Paul Morgan,
from Orlando, Florida.
- Scott Cockrell,
from Bedford, NH
- Ward Hobert,
from Golden, Colorado
- Beth Schlichter,
from Golden, Colorado
- Mike McCauley,
from Stevens, Pennsylvania.
Group members interact...
Francois documents harness