Post Number: 178
|Posted on Monday, May 3, 2004 - 4:10 pm: ||
Che-Mun magazine published a popular series on the disappearance of a canoeing couple in Labrador in the Torngat Mountains in August. I posted Part II in the series in Che-Mun online of Ottertooth.
Post Number: 4
|Posted on Thursday, May 6, 2004 - 6:07 pm: ||
It truly is bewildering that the young couple have "disappeared" in the Torngats without a trace, leaving behind their basecamp and canoe.
I'm not sure that anybody knows for certain they were actually climbing Mt. D’Iberville. (My impression is that this is only a conjecture but I could be wrong. Another impression I have is that there never was a ground search - only via helicopter. )
I've been to the top of D'Iberville some years ago - during a canoe trip from Nain to George River. At the time there was some fresh slushy summer snow on top (rain in the valley) and that made it a bit treacherous. But it was not a difficult or technical climb. There is lot of loose rock and I remeber trying to always make sure I had both a handhold and a foothold, in case one gave away.
I also remeber watching a number of rock slides come down the steep mountain sides in the area. If the couple got caught in something like that, there would of course be no visible trace or bodies.
Another possibility that comes to mind is that maybe they were crossing some stream, and if the water level was high, were swept off their feet and washed down to the sea. (Just another speculative guess to explain their disappearance.).
But why was the satelite phone left behind? That is a puzzle.
It may well be that the real story will always remain unknown and all we can do is speculate.
Post Number: 184
|Posted on Friday, May 7, 2004 - 11:41 am: ||
It is a reminder that what we do is not without risks — and few would have a greater appreciation than you, George, intrepid northern soloist.
On the other hand, had they died in a car accident (for which, I suspect, the odds were higher), we would not be having this discussion.
Post Number: 6
|Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 12:17 pm: ||
In the August 9, 2004 Toronto Star newspaper
ST. JOHN'S, Nfld. — The bodies of two Ontario hikers who disappeared in Labrador's Torngat mountains a year ago have been found, RCMP confirmed today.
Police, Parks Canada staff and local searchers located the remains of Daniel Pauze,31, and Susan Barnes, 32, near the summit of Mount Caubvick on Saturday.
Both were dropped off in northern Labrador last Aug. 3.
The pair from Mississauga, were reported missing by their families on Aug. 24.
Searchers located a climbing harness, a canoe, a loaded rifle and a satellite phone but had to call off the search last summer due to bad weather.
Both bodies were taken to St. John's for further examination.
Post Number: 5
|Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 6:08 pm: ||
Toronto Sun, Tue, August 10, 2004
Hiker knew life was at risk in climb
By IAN ROBERTSON, TORONTO SUN
DANIEL PAUZE had an eerie premonition about climbing a Labrador mountain where his body lay for a year near his beloved 10-year girlfriend, says a pal who backed out of the trip last summer. In several e-mails exchanged in 2002 and 2003, Pauze "seemed incredibly excited," former Toronto resident Ken Takabe told the Sun yesterday from Calgary.
But Pauze left Takabe a note full of foreboding before he and Susan Barnes were flown to the Torngat mountains.
"This will be the toughest trip I've ever done ... if I survive," the Mississauga man told his pal, who had planned to go with them but cancelled after deciding to move to Alberta "for the climbing."
TOLD NOT TO GO ALONE
The couple had been briefed by climbers who visited North America's top eastern peaks, and were warned not to go alone.
The RCMP has had no reports of deaths in Torngat in recent years, but a Web site promoting the remote 300-km north-south range describes it as a destination for the "experienced adventurer."
The couple had climbed mountains, but not the Torngats, which is Inuit for "spirits," the RCMP quoted relatives telling them.
"I'm not sure how much experience he had," Takabe said. "Living in Toronto, it's not easy to get much experience on mountains."
Bodies of pair found after year
Mississauga duo hiked in Labrador
By IAN ROBERTSON, TORONTO SUN
THE PARENTS of a Mississauga couple who vanished a year ago on a remote Labrador mountain were preparing to fly there today with a memorial plaque when they learned the bodies had been located. "We're very glad they were found," Betty Barnes said of the discovery last weekend of the remains of her daughter Susan, 32, and Daniel Pauze, 31, near the Quebec-Labrador border.
The RCMP in Nain, an Inuit community of 1,200 almost three hours flying time by plane and chopper from the site on the treacherous Torngat mountains, broke the news to the families yesterday.
Together since 1994, the couple spent a year planning to scale Mount D'Iberville, a 1,650-metre peak which becomes Mount Caubvick in Labrador, Barnes said.
Pauze, a Canadian National Institute for the Blind computer worker, and Barnes, a Gillette Canada administrator, arrived at the headwaters of the Koroc River on an air charter on Aug. 3, 2003. They gave their families a schedule and route for the 2 1/2-week trip. Their last contact via a bulkly satellite phone, which was later found at their base camp, was on Aug. 8.
When they couldn't be reached again, their families reported the couple missing on Aug. 24. Military, police and volunteer searchers found their base camp intact and Pauze's harness a short distance away, but cancelled the hunt after two weeks, due to snow, high winds and the rugged terrain.
Although they faced a moderate climb, snow squalls "blow up quickly" and likely covered them, Const. Leslie Meagher said.
A team of Mounties, local searchers and Parks Canada mountain experts from Alberta were in a helicopter near the top of Mount Caubvick on Saturday when they spotted Pauze's clothes and climbing ropes, Meagher said. "He was lying on the ground."
After searching the rocky terrain, the team found Barnes' body Sunday "about a kilometre away," Meagher said yesterday.
"They were found with just enough equipment for a type of day hike," she said. "They did not have their backpacks."
Meagher described the site as "a long trek" from their camp.
The bodies were "fairly intact," but Meagher said "after a year of exposure, we couldn't tell if they died from a fall or from exposure." An autopsy will be conducted today at St. John's, Nfld.
Betty and John Barnes were in Montreal last week with Dan's parents, Gaston and Georgette Pauze, of Sudbury, meeting with friends to prepare for a trip to Labrador today.
"We were going to go up the mountain ... and put a plaque up," Betty Barnes said. "We'll go next year.
"It was just the weather that made it dangerous," she said.
Susan and Daniel, who had been together 10 years, will be buried together in Brampton.
Today's Toronto Star:
Soulmates on a mountain
Couple died after scaling rugged Labrador peak
Search teams recover bodies a year after tragedy
DALE ANNE FREED
The bodies of two experienced climbers were found separated by a mountain peak, one year after the soulmates disappeared.
The remains of Susan Barnes, 36, and Dan Pauze, 31, were discovered in Labrador on the weekend, spotted from a helicopter by a Parks Canada alpine rescue team. The Mississauga pair had reached the peak of Mount Caubvick last summer, battling unpredictable early snows, hail and winds, but did not come back down alive.
They were reported missing Aug. 24. A team of RCMP and Quebec police looked for them for several weeks, but the search finally had to be called off because of bad weather.
"It's like having a door closed and then someone turns the key," Susan's father, John Barnes, said yesterday after learning their bodies had been found.
Both families had been bracing for the news since the search ended last year, and they gathered at the Barnes' home in Brampton yesterday.
"We knew the children were dead," said Susan's mother, Betty Barnes. "We wanted to bring them home."
A year ago, the couple was at the beginning of what was supposed to be a three-week trip canoeing, hiking and climbing in the Torngat Mountains region.
Barnes and Pauze had planned to climb the highest mountains in Quebec (Mount D'Iberville) and Labrador (Mount Caubvick) on their trip, following a long-term dream of climbing the highest mountain in each of Canada's provinces.
They scaled Mount Caubvick on Aug. 11, signing their names in a climbers' journal kept in a metal tube at the peak, said Betty Barnes.
It's believed that Pauze the more experienced climber of the two was injured as he attempted to rappel down the mountain and then climb up a 9-metre vertical rock wall at a notch in the mountain, the families were told by authorities.
His backpack, containing his camera and a GPS (global positioning system) unit, was found there, about half a kilometre from the peak.
It's believed Barnes tried to go for help as he lay injured, but tumbled onto a rock ledge on the other side of the mountain.
Her body was found near the spot where her climbing harness was found last year, her mother said.
The weather allowed the search to resume last weekend. The RCMP, Parks Canada mountain safety specialists and a local search and rescue team from Nain, Labrador, were joined by 18 skilled climbers led by U.S. author and mountain climber Jack Bennett.
The last group included four friends of the adventurous young couple.
Pauze's body was found first, on the first day of the search on the Quebec-Labrador border.
He was found lying next to some climbing rope at about 10 a.m. Saturday on the Koroc Ridge, about half a kilometre from the top of the 1,652-metre mountain, said Sergeant Randy Mercer, of the St. John's, Nfld., RCMP detachment.
Barnes' body was found the next day, below an overhang about 1 kilometre from Pauze, near the Minarette Ridge, on the Labrador side of the mountain.
The climb was supposed to take only a day, so the couple had left their sleeping bags, a rifle and a satellite phone in their tent at the base of 1,646-metre-high Mount D'Iberville. Their canoe was found nearby.
"It's a very challenging mountain to climb, very rugged treacherous terrain," Mercer said.
"It's a spectacular piece of country. But it's unforgiving. Weather conditions can really play havoc. You can get winter conditions at any time."
Mercer said it was tough having to call the families to verify the deaths. "We had quite a heart-to-heart the other evening. It was pretty difficult."
He said he doesn't know of any other hikers lost on the mountain in recent years.
The bodies were airlifted to St. John's for an autopsy.
Pauze, a computer network manager, had just received a raise and a promotion before he and Barnes, an administrative assistant, took off on their trip together.
"Every moment we had that was happy will always be tinged with sadness," said Susan's sister, Amanda.
The families plan to inter or scatter the ashes of the two climbers together, after a funeral slated for 2 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Scott Funeral Home in Brampton.
Post Number: 7
|Posted on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - 5:53 pm: ||
I think one must be careful in accepting media text as gospel at this time. It's still too early to know the "facts".
I read that: "They scaled Mount Caubvick on Aug. 11, signing their names in a climbers' journal kept in a metal tube at the peak, said Betty Barnes.
It's believed that Pauze the more experienced climber of the two was injured as he attempted to rappel down the mountain and then climb up a 9-metre vertical rock wall at a notch in the mountain, the families were told by authorities. "
When I was there in 1987, there was no 9-meter vertical wall. We used no ropes or technical equipment. There was no need. But maybe they attempted a different route.
The weather. We were there from July 26 to August 2, 1987. It rained one day near sea level but snowed in the peaks. In August the weather becomes more and more unpredictable and hostile. Maybe they were there a bit late in the season and were hammered by cold wet weather and became hypothermic. Under such conditions even an easy route becomes near impossible.
Satelite phone. They left their phone back at base camp. Why? Too heavy? Never thought about bringing it? That was a serious oversight (mistake). With it on the mountain the tragedy probably could have been averted.
I have heard of similar oversights. True story. Somebody on a canoe trip decides to run Rocky Defile (in high water) on the Coppermine. They have a lifejacket with them but in the excitement forget to put it on. They run and swamp and he drowns, not wearing the jacket that was available and could have saved his life.
Post Number: 105
|Posted on Thursday, August 12, 2004 - 3:47 pm: ||
I finally have had the time to read Alexandra Pratt's excellent book LOST LANDS, FORGOTTEN STORIES : A Women's Journey To The Heart of Labrador about here experiences in the wake of Mina Hubbard. [ I have 60 pages still to read. ]
Reading this book and reading about and contemplating the tragedy that is the topic of the above messages and recalling the hazards and near tragedies of my wilderness trips has been quite overwhelming.
Post Number: 8
|Posted on Sunday, August 15, 2004 - 10:30 am: ||
From Saturday's Globe and Mail (Toronto, Aug 14, 2004. Page M2) -- sorry, photos are not transportable to this post.
'They show such joy, don't they?'
Their families may never know the exact details of how a Toronto couple died in Labrador, writes CHRIS NUTTALL-SMITH, but the pictures they left behind document the thrill the two experienced together
By CHRIS NUTTALL-SMITH
Special to The Globe and Mail
They look far too happy up on that summit to have been seriously concerned about the weather. Here's Susan Barnes, 36, of Mississauga, stabbing at the sky with her gloved forefinger, her beaming eyes triumphant even through the snow.
Now it's Dan Pauze's turn. Susan's long-time boyfriend, 31, stands at the summit, his moment of success recorded for history. They had dreamed of this peak for more than a year. Both of Dan's arms are raised in satisfaction.
On Wednesday morning, the pictures, preserved for a year on that mountain in the young couple's camera, arrived at the Brampton home of Betty and John Barnes, Susan's parents.
The Barneses now know about the note the young couple left in the climbers' logbook at the top. They know where the two were found. And though they may never know what, exactly, happened up there, at least they have these pictures.
"Here's one of Danny," Betty says. "See, there's a few more. See that smile?"
The photos were taken on Monday, Aug. 11, 2003. The time of day is not clear. Dan and Susan are at 1,652 metres at the tip of Mount Caubvick -- as high as you can get in Labrador. Each of them is wearing a climbing harness.
Even in August, the weather is socking them in. A cairn at the summit shows patches of light-looking snow that's still feathery, so translucent you can make out rock beneath it. And beyond the cairn there is only cloud and falling whiteness. A storm is beginning to build.
After climbing Mount Caubvick, they were supposed to hike back down to the Koroc River Valley, where they had left their canoe. They had planned to spend the next week and a half paddling back to civilization.
"She had mapped it all out for me," Betty says. "She had put the canoe route down and she had put Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. Every single day, when I got out of bed and came downstairs, I would say to John, 'Oh, they're here today.' "
One last picture from the summit shows the two of them: It's taken on the camera's self-timer, from five or seven metres away, so they're smaller now, and the snow and the cloud make it difficult to see them clearly. Susan is leaning against the cairn. She has her arm around Dan's shoulder. Even through the weather, you can see the white of Dan's smile.
"They show such joy, don't they?" Betty says. "They just look happy. They've achieved their goal." Then her tone changes. She does not sob -- she has had a year for that already. But her voice sounds tired.
"It must have been about two hours before they died."
Susan and Dan always cuddled in pictures. When they sat on a sofa, they always sat together and if there was not room for two, they stood. "After 10 years, they were still like that," says Amanda Barnes, Susan's younger sister.
They met in 1993 as undergraduate students at the University of Guelph, where she was studying sociology and anthropology and he was a student of environmental science.
When Susan saw Dan across the room at a wine and cheese party, she told Amanda, "He's really cute."
He was. He had short brown hair, an intelligent face and a strong, slender frame that belied years of adventure outdoors.
As for Susan, a stranger might have mistaken her for Sarah McLachlan, with her shoulder-length brown hair, apple cheeks and a field of freckles across her face.
The two bumped into each other the night after the wine and cheese at an Oktoberfest party and spent the entire evening talking. Then the next night, a Saturday, they saw each other again at a university bar. "After that, they were a couple," Amanda says.
Each of them grew up loving the outdoors. The Barnes family had taken their daughters skiing and camping from the time they were little. And Dan had grown up in Sudbury, in the heart of Ontario's outdoor country. His father, a mining contractor, often took him fishing and camping, recalls Michel Pauze, Dan's older brother.
In 1996, the couple met up with Amanda in Jasper, Alta., and the three of them spent the summer working at a hotel there. On their days off, they hiked and white-water-rafted and mountain-biked. Dan and Susan took a day-long rappelling course, learning how to wear climbing harnesses and handle a lifeline. The couple also climbed Jasper's 2,763-metre Pyramid Mountain that summer. "She loved it," Amanda recalls. "She came back from that hike and they were on a huge high."
The couple continued canoeing and hiking, but Dan, especially, pushed himself to gain more technical experience, even climbing Washington state's highest peak, the crevasse-ridden Mount Ranier.
Then, some time after 1999, Dan caught the highpoints bug. Jack Bennett, an author and mountain climber from Ohio, became the first person to climb to the highest point in every Canadian province and territory, and his account of the quest, a book called Not Won in a Day, became Dan's bible.
"To a highpointer, the summit is the tangible, undeniable measure of success in a world where success is all too often subjective or ill defined," Mr. Bennett wrote. "The goal is what keeps a highpointer going through deprivation and often unbelievable hardship."
Dan and Susan bagged some of the lower eastern summits, including Ontario's isolated Ishpatina Ridge, in Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Provincial Park. Then they set their sights on Mount Caubvick and Mount D'Iberville. They spent at least a year planning the trip, even travelling to Ohio to meet with Mr. Bennett for his advice.
They could reach the two peaks in just one climb: They're part of essentially the same mountain, divided only by a few metres and the invisible border between Labrador and Quebec.
Their route -- the harder of two possibilities -- would take them up a steep ridge, then require them to rappel into a deep, crumbly notch and climb back out again before reaching the peak. They could make it up and back down before dark.
By all accounts, the couple always played it safe. Says Michel: "My brother, he didn't even speed in his car."
And their planning was meticulous. "They never went into anything without knowing," John Barnes says. Betty finishes the thought for him. "No, it wasn't their style," she says. "They knew, exactly."
On the day of the climb, Susan and Dan and a U.S. couple they met in Nain, Labrador, flew to the foot of the mountain in a chartered plane. (The U.S. couple did not climb with them.) Their pictures show that the four of them sat in the single seats on the aircraft's left side. Susan wore her hair braided in two short pigtails that poked out from beneath her turquoise ball cap. In an image from another photo, she stares out the Twin Otter's window, lost in her thoughts while gazing at the landscape below.
A few days later, a helicopter pilot found Susan's empty climbing harness near the peak. Then, on Aug. 21, the pair missed a scheduled flight from Kangiqsualujjuaq, on Ungava Bay. Two days later, John Barnes called the police.
The search party found the couple's base camp but could not get up into the high country. After a week of foul weather, they gave up the search for the winter.
This month, two separate parties went looking again. Mr. Bennett, who had so inspired Dan, led a group of 18 searchers. But it was the second group, led by RCMP Sergeant Randy Mercer, that found the couple. They discovered the summitter's logbook in the cairn at the top of Mount Caubvick, and in it, next to the names of climbers past and the dates and handwritten celebrations of making the peak -- that tangible, undeniable measure of success -- Dan and Susan had signed their own names and the date, and they had noted the weather.
" 'A blizzard,' I think, was the word they wrote," Sgt. Mercer recalls.
Then something happened during their descent.
A week ago Friday, Sgt. Mercer's group found Dan's body at the rappelling point on the notch in the ridge. The policeman and another of the searchers called Brampton, where the Barnes and Pauze families were waiting.
The next day they found Susan's body in a ridge on the other side of the peak, nearly a kilometre from where Dan lay. She was on the easier route down when she fell.
An autopsy is being conducted to determine how they died.
"To say why they were that far apart, it's -- it's a bit mysterious to me," Sgt. Mercer says. "We can guess that she might have been going for help. Who knows what was going on?"
And then, this week, came the pictures, now laid out across the Barnes's coffee table. For the final images of a young couple's life, they could be worse.
"She looks happy," Betty says. "She looks happy."
Post Number: 6
|Posted on Thursday, September 2, 2004 - 8:19 pm: ||
An indepth update. Thanks to Johanna Wandel for providing the link.