It was cold at the search and rescue briefing Friday morning. People shuffled their feet, trying to stay warm, as different section leaders read the weather report and gave out assignments to search teams. Jake's family stood in the shadows.
His father stepped forward and told us that he was babysitting his two granddaughters when he got the call that his son was missing. The 3 year old told him not to worry. "Jake's owl will find him", she said, referring to Harry Potter's owl companion. "You are all Jake's owls," his father said to us. "Fly through the woods and find him."
His words will haunt me for a long time.
Later that day our helicopter located Jake. He had fallen 800 feet from Peak 8888. He came to rest on a ledge, in a beautiful, lonely spot impossible to see from the ground. Above him, snow still lingered in the couloir. It was a harshly beautiful place, forbidding but enticing at the same time.
It was an honor to be Jake's owl today, to find him and help bring him home.