Hope of hikers’ survival lessening with time
MOUNT FORAKER, Alaska – The possibility of survival was dwindling Thursday for Vail resident Sue Nott and climbing partner Karen McNeill, who rescuers suspect ran out of food and fuel seven to 10 days ago.The two highly-experienced mountaineers left base camp 28 days ago with a two-week supply of food and fuel that could be used to melt snow for drinking. Those supplies could have been stretched to 20 days, said Kris Fister, spokeswoman for Denali National Park and Preserve.Nott, 36, and Canadian McNeill, 37, also lost layers of warm clothing found June 8 near a ripped backpack among avalanche debris.”What gives us a small hope – a very small hope, and it becomes less and less … is these women are very skilled and have gotten out of very difficult situations before,” Fister said. “That’s what leads us to believe they might still be alive.”On Thursday – the eighth day of the search – rescuers again were frustrated by an impenetrable layer of clouds prevent any aerial searches of the 17,400-foot south summit of Foraker, 12 miles southwest of Mount McKinley. Mostly cloudy conditions and high winds are expected throughout the weekend, although there may be breaks in the clouds to allow further searching, Fister said.The inability to search the mountain is souring rescuers’ moods. “It’s frustrating because we want to come to some sort of conclusion one way or another,” Fister said.
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