Search for missing mountaineers near Squamish temporarily suspended

The search for three mountaineers near Squamish has been suspended for the time being.

The search on Atwell Peak in Garibaldi Provincial Park began after the trio did not return on Friday, May 31.

The Sea to Sky RCMP says the efforts are being temporarily paused after an aerial scene assessment and partial ground search were completed and video was collected.

“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,” the RCMP said.

Mounties note it’s anticipated the search will resume after footage and conditions are assessed. It’s unclear when exactly that may be, with the RCMP explaining that timeline “will be dependent on the conditions as well as a continuous risk assessment.”

Search and rescue crews have faced many challenges, including with the weather, in their efforts to find the missing climbers.

On Wednesday, conditions were finally favourable enough so crews could use a helicopter to search the area on the south side of Mount Garibaldi. However, Squamish Search and Rescue noted that “the operation continued to be hampered by low cloud over Atwell Peak.”

“We had three machines with teams aerial searching in the area. One of the helicopters was equipped with RECCO-detection technology. If someone has the technology in their clothing, the helicopter could potentially pick it up,” Squamish SAR said in a Facebook post Thursday morning.

On Thursday, choppers were back in the air, as ground crews with dogs and drones also scoured the area below. Squamish SAR teams were being assisted by crews from Whistler SAR and North Shore Rescue.

People are still being urged to avoid heading into the area, where terrain is described by the RCMP as “currently hazardous and poses significant risk.”

No other details are expected at this time, and the RCMP says the names of the missing people are not being released as their families ask for privacy.

Mounties add updates will be provided only if there are “significant developments.”

Social media posts have described the three as highly-skilled mountaineers.

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