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Search halted by weather

North Vancouver RCMP say the search for a missing snowshoer in the rugged North Shore backcountry will resume when weather and snow conditions allow for a safe and thorough air and ground search.

Cpl. Richard De Jong says in a news release that a 39-year-old Surrey man is missing after he and a friend were caught in an avalanche north of Mount Seymour.

The avalanche occurred Monday morning as the missing man and a 30-year-old friend, who is also from Surrey, were snowshoeing through a challenging area between Runner Peak and Mount Elsay.

Police say the younger man was not hurt and was able to cling to a tree and call for help.

Dangerous conditions hampered the search effort but members of North Shore Rescue were able to reach the man late Monday and he was airlifted off the mountain.

The search was suspended Monday night and the decision to delay further efforts for at least 24 hours was made early Tuesday as Environment Canada called for up to 10 centimetres of snow across parts of Metro Vancouver.

North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks has said the situation does not look good for a positive outcome, but the team will continue to hope for the best.

Despite improved conditions expected Wednesday, the continuing avalanche risk will limit the number of searchers and avalanche dogs that can be sent into the area, he said.

After the rescued snowshoer was airlifted to safety, a team from Whistler Blackcomb ski resort dropped explosives from a helicopter to try to ease the danger of further slides.

Avalanche conditions are rated as moderate at higher elevations of the North Shore mountains.

The Avalanche Canada website said 30 to 50 centimetres of recent snow may have created the risk of slab avalanches because the new snow is poorly bonded to the base.



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