Massive search ongoing for experienced missing hiker on Vancouver Island
VANCOUVER -- Search and rescue crews on Vancouver Island are scouring the backcountry in Strathcona Park for an experienced solo hiker who was last heard from nearly a week ago.
The 65-year-old man from Black Creek was last heard from on Monday, June 29, when he set off on a 40-kilometre solo hike that was slated to take multiple days to complete.
The search began Friday, after the man failed to return as planned on Thursday afternoon, said Paul Berry, search manager for Comox Valley Search and Rescue.
Berry described the missing man as a "very respected mountaineer and climber," and said crews have a "high level of concern" for his safety, given that he has so far not responded to their efforts to contact him.
"We feel that if he were able to respond to us, that he would have done so," Berry said.
Five search and rescue teams from around Vancouver Island are participating in the search, and they've been joined by four teams from the Lower Mainland, Berry said.
Crews have taken advantage of good weather on the weekend to scour a "massive" search area along the missing man's route, both by land and by air. As of Sunday afternoon, they had found no trace of the missing hiker, according to Berry.
The search manager described the terrain as "very technical," centred around the five mountain peaks - each one more than 6,000 feet high - that made up the hiker's route.
"This is a very isolated area, not commonly travelled," Berry said. "There are no trails, there are no cairns marking waypoints along the way, so this is an area where solid navigation skills with a map, compass and GPS are absolutely essential."
The missing man's car is still parked where he left it at the beginning of his hike, Berry said.