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Search suspended for overdue mountain climbers near Squamish, B.C.

Click to play video: 'Search for overdue climbers near Squamish suspended on day 7'
Search for overdue climbers near Squamish suspended on day 7
Officials have suspended a search for three overdue climbers near Squamish, B.C., citing unstable conditions in the mountains. Alissa Thibault has the latest – Jun 6, 2024

Officials have suspended a search for three overdue climbers near Squamish, B.C., citing “unstable conditions” in the mountains.

“Significant challenges due to current unstable conditions have resulted in the decision to suspend the search to ensure the safety of search and rescue teams,” RCMP said in a media release.

“It is anticipated the search will resume following analysis of (drone) footage and reassessment of the conditions. An exact timeline is uncertain and will be dependent on the conditions as well as a continuous risk assessment.”

The search for the trio picked up again Thursday around 5:30 a.m. in the Atwell Peak area on the southern edge of Garibaldi Mountain.

Click to play video: 'Search for 3 missing mountain climbers near Squamish continues'
Search for 3 missing mountain climbers near Squamish continues

Rescue teams were in the air in three helicopters, and ground crews were working the area in the morning with avalanche search dogs and drones.

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Earlier Thursday, Squamish Search and Rescue search manager BJ Chute said that while it was sunny in the Squamish Valley, the Atwell Peak area and surrounding alpine are subject to rapidly changing conditions.

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“We are limited at this point due to avalanche conditions and unpredictable weather. I understand down here it is sunny but in the high alpine the weather and avalanche conditions are still unpredictable,” he told Global News.

Earlier Thursday ground were also pulled out due to worsening conditions.

Chute said there’s apparent evidence of avalanches in the alpine area near where the climbers are believed to be missing, however, officials can’t determine exactly when they occurred.

On Wednesday, crews were hopeful that a break in cloudy weather would allow them a clearer view of the area where the climbers are believed to be missing.

Unfortunately, Squamish Search and Rescue said the search on Wednesday continued to be hampered by low clouds over Atwell Peak.

The trio, who are experienced and well respected in the mountaineering community, set out last Friday morning, and one of them posted a social media post from Atwell Peak that day.

None of them have been heard from since, and harsh weather conditions over the weekend prevented search crews from ascending to key areas on the mountain.

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“This is not a casual day hike by any stretch, this is an extremely technical mountaineering adventure that these people set out on. It’s a highly technical climb that’s going to require ropes, crampons, harnesses, extreme experience and extreme training to get into this area,” Squamish SAR manager BJ Chute said.

“This by no means a walk in the park or a simple hike by any means.”

Helicopter teams have been using scanning devices capable of picking up signals from mobile phones, avalanche beacons and “deflector” devices that can be sewn into high-tech outdoor clothing.

The RCMP has asked members of the public to stay away from the search area while operations are underway.

Police have not named the missing climbers out of respect for their families.

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