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North Shore Rescue postpones search for Surrey hiker caught in avalanche

Last Updated Feb 20, 2019 at 6:23 am PDT

Summary

Hiker airlifted to safety after he tied himself to a tree for hours following an avalanche; friend still missing

Weather complicated search efforts Monday and has stopped teams from continuing work on Tuesday

NORTH SHORE (NEWS 1130) – There will be no search Tuesday for a man who has been missing in the backcountry near Mount Seymour after an avalanche on Monday.

Two hikers were caught in the slide. Search and rescue crews were able to find one of them, a 30-year-old man from Surrey with a helicopter on Monday. But the weather has delayed further searching for the other hiker, 39-year-old Remigiusz Michalowski from Surrey, for the time being.

Crews won’t be going back out to look for the hiker until Wednesday, at earliest.

Mike Danks with North Shore Rescue made the tough call.

“At the end of the day, we were able to get some good coverage by air. And there have been a lot of natural avalanches that have occurred. The conditions are said to deteriorate, as well.”

It’s a blow to the search effort, as another day passes without knowing for certain if the missing man is, indeed, buried under tons of frozen avalanche debris.

Danks says while there’s always reason to hope for the best, each passing hour makes it harder to imagine bringing the man home.

Crews were called to the remote area between Runner Peak and Mount Elsay at about 11 a.m. Monday. Teams came from as far as Whistler to help.

The avalanche danger has been rated low to moderate. But over the weekend, people in the area may have spotted warning signs of instability in the snowpack.

RELATED: Hiker rescued off Mount Seymour but friend still missing after avalanche

Danks says crews have been able to canvass the area by air and have used avalanche dogs, but there’s still no sign of the second hiker.

The first was airlifted to safety on Monday at around 4 p.m. after he tied himself to a tree for hours. He is not seriously hurt. He wasn’t able to see where his friend ended up after the snow stopped moving.

“At this point, we have no sign of the second subject,” Danks said. “Fingers crossed, he could be somewhere else. But at this point, it does not look very good.”

RELATED: ‘Low’ is not ‘no’: Don’t be fooled by reduced avalanche danger ratings

He says the hikers did a lot of things right, but avalanches are unpredictable and difficult to handle. “I think you’re always best to try to mitigate your exposure. Certainly, we did see a lot of avalanche activity back there.”

“I think the big takeaway is if you are going into uncontrolled avalanche terrain, you need to have all of your avalanche safety equipment with you.”

 – With files from Greg Harper and Jonathan Szekeres