A lengthy, high altitude emergency rescue in the Coast Mountains has been suspended after searchers were unable to find a woman who fell during a climb.
RCMP say 33-year-old Laurel Fan of Seattle, Washington and two others were making an ascent of a peak known as Serra Two near Stiletto Glacier in the Waddington Range Sunday afternoon when something went horribly wrong at 11,000 ft. Her companions saw her fall several hundred feet.
Unable to find her, Fan’s companions descended from the area and made it to a base camp Monday morning where they contacted Alexis Creek RCMP.
Because of the rugged terrain, a Parks Canada Mountaineers had to be called in to conduct a survey of the site Tuesday. A search team of three Parks Canada professional climbers, an Alberta Provincial Parks technician, and a SAR tech from Whistler Search and Rescue began a search of the mountain Wednesday.
They started with two crevasses using avalanche probes to scour the metre-deep snow deposited over the area since Sunday. Crews returned to the area Thursday with a search dog and handler from Banff to examine regions at the 9000 foot level and 9400 foot level which were littered with deep crevasses of unknown depths. RCMP says snow conditions were a constant concern with continuous natural avalanches occurring in the search area since Sunday.
The extreme and dangerous conditions present, only permitted the searchers to be on the mountain face for 3 hrs per day, early in the morning from 05:00 to 08:00 hrs, given that daylight temperature changes caused worsening snow conditions. Given that the fall distance exceeded several hundred feet, searchers have made the determination that there was an extreme unlikelihood of her surviving the fall,” stated Corporal Dan Moskaluk of the RCMP in a news release.
Crews decided to call off the search Thursday afternoon.
Moskaluk says Alexis Creek RCMP have been maintaining contact with Fan’s family throughout the ordeal and continue to provide support to them.