Rescuers have temporarily suspended the search for two snowshoers missing near Cypress Mountain Resort, citing snow, high winds and avalanche danger.
Chun Sek Lam, 64, and Roy Tin Hou Lee, 43, have been missing since Christmas Day. Their car was found abandoned at the resort that afternoon.
Weather and avalanche concerns hampered efforts all day. North Shore Rescue (NSR) spokesman Mike Danks said crews were scheduled to leave their Capilano Gate base at 8 a.m. PT., but heavy clouds delayed use of the Talon helicopter.
Danks earlier called Wednesday “a make-or-break day for these guys.”
Still a search operation
NSR search manager Jeff Yarnold says the search was called for the day at noon, but it took several hours to get the searchers out of the area for their own safety.
Yarnold says the suspension doesn’t mean searchers have switched from rescue to recovery, and that it is possible the men are still alive.
“Definitely there’s a possibility, and that’s why we’re still here,” he said, but added there has been “no sign at all” of the missing men.
“We’re not covering a lot of ground because of what’s happening with the weather right now,” he said.
Out-of-bounds skiers, boarders a problem
On Tuesday, Danks said crews made voice contact with someone near Mount Strachan around 1:30 p.m. PT.
However, the spokesman said that turned out to be another out-of-bounds skier or snowboarder.
“We were really hopeful that was going to be the missing snowshoers, so that was tough for us,” Danks said.
“It’s a challenge because we have people constantly jumping the ropes and getting into the search area we’re trying to focus on,” he added, reminding the public to stay on marked trails.”
Pair didn’t leave plan
Nearly two dozen volunteers spent Monday and Tuesday looking for the men, who are described as “experienced” but unprepared for an overnight trip.
He said the pair didn’t leave a detailed plan before they went on their trip, making them near-impossible to track.
“We don’t know what has happened to them,” Danks said. “Did they lose the trail? Did somebody fall and get hurt?
“We just don’t know what the reality is.”
Cst. Jeff Palmer with West Vancouver Police says weather conditions will be reviewed several times daily over the next few days.
With files from Kamil Karamali, The Early Edition