The search for a pair of missing hikers in the Cypress Mountain area has been temporarily suspended due to bad weather.
Constable Jeff Palmer with the West Vancouver police says the decision came after conditions began to deteriorate earlier today.
“The weather took a pretty significant turn for the worse, heavy snow, wind, the avalanche risk becoming quite elevated. And about midday the decision was made to begin to pull the search teams out of the search area for the searchers own safety.”
Palmer says the force and North Shore Rescue will continue to monitor the weather conditions on an ongoing basis hoping for an improvement that would allow a continued search.
Earlier today, NSR said thick cloud cover forced it to ground helicopters searching the Cypress area for 43-year-old Roy Tin Hou Lee and 64-year-old Chun Sek Lam.
Palmer says the mountain could see up to 40 cm of new snow on the way, along with gusty winds. But he says searchers aren’t giving up hope.
“We certainly remain hopfeul, and we certainly at this stage believe there are valid search objectives to work on.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by NSR team leader Mike Danks about the missing pair, who were last seen on Sunday.
“They’ve been through some pretty extreme conditions. I think it really comes down to these guys staying positive and keeping each other warm, and getting out in the open, I mean we really need these guys to get out in the open for us.”
The search for the men was launched after Lee’s car was found abandoned in the Cypress parking lot Christmas night.
Danks was asked if calling off the search will be an option if the men don’t turn up.
“You know, I think we’re going to cross that bridge when we get to it. We’re really hopeful that we’ll make some sort of contact today.”
Danks says the team will be searching around the Strachan Meadows area on Cypress Mountain.
Search manager Doug Pope says that area was targeted after a tip from hikers who’d been on the mountain Christmas day and saw two Asian men in the area.
“Going up the slopes of Mount, sorry St. Marks summit, on the Howe Sound Crest trail on around noon on Christmas Day as this witness was coming down, so we now have sort of the point last seen, noon on Christmas Day on the slopes ascending St. Marks.”
Twenty-five men and two helicopters were assisting in the search.