Weather continues to delay search for missing mountaineers near Squamish

It’s a race against the clock for Squamish Search and Rescue (SSAR) crews who are trying to find three missing mountaineers.

The climbers were going up Mount Atwell, on the south side of Mount Garibaldi. They were set to return on Friday evening, but never did.

B.J. Chute, search manager with Squamish SAR, tells CityNews Tuesday the weather continues to cause major delays to the search.

“The weather is still keeping our crews grounded at this time. However, Squamish Search and Rescue remains on standby and should a break in the weather occur, we’ll be able to send a helicopter into the area as soon as we can.”

He explains the weather in the area is much like it’s been along much of the coast for the last few days.

“It’s very dark, rainy, cloudy, dense fog, the ceiling is probably 100 metres off the ground, so it’s keeping the helicopters grounded at this point.”

Chute says they need more than just a bit of blue sky.

“We need some sort of clearing in the alpine, in particular. The peak of Atwell is around 2,500 metres, so it’s not a simple matter of just having little patches of blue sky. We need a significant change in the weather to allow our crews to fly to this remote area and do a proper assessment.”

He explains there’s an avalanche risk in the area, which is also posing a major challenge.

The silver lining is the three are said to be familiar with the backcountry.

“We have no idea what’s happened to them. The best that we have is they are fairly experienced, and they are trained and equipped to be in the area,” said Chute.

He adds he doesn’t have a timeline of whether the three reached Atwell’s summit or not.

Chute isn’t saying how long the search effort will continue.

“We’re going to consider this an active search and rescue operation until we have evidence to the contrary, so we’re going to carry on the best we can, given the conditions we’re presented with, and resume the search as soon as we can.”

Squamish SAR says it along with the RCMP has been in touch with the families of the missing trio.