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Search for missing climbers in Canada’s Garibaldi Park near Whistler stalled by weather conditions and avalanche threat

Toronto — A search and rescue operation was still underway Monday morning, three days after a trio of climbers failed to return from their climbing expedition in Garibaldi Park near the town of Squamish, B.C. British, in southwest Canada.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police in British Columbia said the climbers were expected to return Friday, but were not heard or spotted by search teams working in difficult conditions.

The RCMP said in a statement Sunday afternoon that police and search and rescue teams attempted to locate the climbers, but their efforts were “hampered by adverse weather conditions” and “extreme avalanche conditions” that teams were trying to overcome.

According to Squamish Search and Rescue officials, the climbers are all very experienced climbers, but they were operating in extremely difficult terrain in Garibaldi Park, located just south of Canada’s famous Whistler mountain resort.

Mount Garibaldi during a spectacular sunset
Mount Garibaldi towers over Squamish as the sun sets in British Columbia, in a 2021 file photo.

ALEX RATSON ARATSON@ME.COM/Getty


“We’re talking about climbing with ropes, ice axes, crampons, that sort of thing. We’re not talking about people going out for a leisurely stroll,” SSR director BJ Chute told Canadian national broadcaster CBC . “This is serious, serious mountaineering.”

CBC News reported that SSAR rescue teams attempted to locate the climbers using drones and that the Canadian military also assisted in the search efforts, but neither attempt succeeded in overcoming the adverse conditions .

Searches launched from the resort areas of the North Shore and Whistler, two of the region’s most important tourist destinations, were also unsuccessful.

“All of these efforts were deemed dangerous and ultimately failed,” Chute told the CBC.

Communication in this rugged area is generally difficult, even with satellite phones, and Chute said lack of contact with climbers is not necessarily a sign of a bad outcome.

Rescue teams were on standby Monday, ready to resume their efforts as soon as weather conditions improved enough for them to do so safely, the CBC reported, but it was clear that climbers might still have to wait some time to be rescued.

“If the weather continues as it is, as we anticipate, then unfortunately we will not be able to enter that area,” Chute told CBC.

Forecasts called for more heavy rain and gusty winds in the area at least through Tuesday morning.

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