David Koch is missing on Grouse Mountain. He has been missing since Wednesday, five nights now, and there remains only a slim probability of his survival.
I met him Tuesday afternoon. He was making a promotional tour for his magazine, DM Review. He had a boyish face and thinning hair. His smile seemed expectant, as if someone were about to deliver a punch line. His conversation was softly spoken and hesitant or perhaps merely polite, paced to encourage interruption. He was, after all, from Wisconsin where time flows like glacial ice.
The Vancouver Sun reported the contents of his rental car left at the base of Grouse Mountain. There was the stuff typical of a business trip—dress shoes, white shirt, black suit, laptop, Blackberry—and the embarrassingly human details—a receipt for a Butterfinger and a nail file bought in Beaverton, Oregon. It’s rather startling like peering from the window of an elevated train into someone’s apartment and witnessing an unguarded moment, a candid gesture or expression that is utterly unimportant and completely human. He liked Butterfingers. It’s simply not something you expect to know about a dead man you met only once.
I was likely one of the last people to see David alive and know him by name. He left our office in Seattle and, next day, drove north to Vancouver, British Columbia. He crossed the Canadian border at 6:30 pm. Before checking into his hotel he stopped and bought a ticket for the tram to the top of Grouse Mountain. (The summer day’s are long in these latitudes, lasting until 10:00 pm.) He didn’t return with the last tram of the day. Perhaps he decided to walk down the mountain. There are well groomed trails but nightfall might have overtaken him.
This morning when I returned to the office after the Memorial Day holiday I had voicemail left by Mike Gellati of the North Shore Search and Rescue Team. He had called the previous Sunday, the fourth day David had been missing. My name and phone number was in David’s day scheduler. I returned his call but there was nothing I could add to what he knew already.
He said they had positive identification of David on videotape at the chalet on top of the mountain, after which he simply vanished. Helicopters, men and dogs have been searching for him since. Gellati is baffled. It’s the sort of disappearance that happens only once every decade, he said—a well defined search area, sufficient resources to make a through search, and nothing found. He fears that their operation has changed from rescue to recovery.