Search called off for hiker who disappeared into Vancouver Island backcountry
VICTORIA -- More than a week since an experienced mountaineer disappeared into the backcountry of Vancouver Island, rescuers are calling off the search.
Laurence Philippsen of Black Creek was last heard from on June 29, when the 65-year-old set off on a 40-kilometre solo hike through Strathcona Park.
Searchers began pouring into the park by ground and helicopter on Friday after Philippsen failed to return home as planned on Thursday afternoon.
By Monday, search and rescue teams from across Vancouver Island were still scouring the mountainsides of the park, but on Tuesday their efforts were abandoned.
"Suspension of a search is always the most difficult decision that can be made because there are many questions left," said Paul Berry, manager for Comox Valley Search and Rescue.
"Over the four days of searching, over hundreds and hundreds of hours, not a single clue came forward to direct us towards where Laurence may be," he said.
Berry described the remote area where Laurence planned to hike as "really only an area for those who have the skills to be there." By the search manager's own account, Philippsen has those skills and is a "very respected mountaineer and climber."
Berry described the terrain as "very technical," centred around the five mountain peaks that each reach over 1800 metres high.
The missing man's car was found parked at where he began his multi-day hike.
Philippsen's whereabouts remains an open case with the RCMP. Searchers encourage anyone in the area to keep an eye out for signs of the missing man.