Sue Nott and Karen McNeill feared dead on Mt Foraker
Tom Briggs 13th June, 2006
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For the past 2 weeks, rescuers have been searching for missing Alpinists, Sue Nott and Karen McNeill, who set out on Mt Foraker's Infinite Spur on 14 May. The pair hoped to make the Alaskan grade 6 route on Mt Foraker (17,400ft) in 10 days, but the National Park Authority began searching for the climbers on 1 June following several days of heavy snowfall. Nott and McNeill, both sponsored Mountain Hardwear athletes, are two of the world's best-known female Alpinists, with numerous hard mountain routes and ice climbs between them. In 2004 they climbed Denali's Cassin Ridge together, and were forced to camp on the summit in a storm. Denali National Park rescue authorities used a high altitude Lama Helicopter to make their arial search, gradually piecing together the climbers' likely fate, as they spotted Nott's rucksack at the base of an avalanche shute and later, tracks as high as 16,400' on the way to the summit. It seems likely that the pair were forced to continue upwards in deterioating weather, hoping to descend by an easier ridge. They had 14 days of gas to melt snow, so had been without water for at least 10 days by the time the search was scaled back.