Crews are readying to resume the official search Thursday for a pair of snowboarders missing on Mount Baker.
The effort to find Drew Lenz, 20 and Jake Amancio, 22, was called off Tuesday evening due to deteriorating weather.
The young men were supposed to return home to Bellingham Sunday night but never did. Their vehicle was found in the resort’s upper parking lot.
The men were backcountry snowboarding Sunday, beyond the boundary lines of Baker, which doesn’t open until Thursday, when weather is expected to clear.
It's hoped conditions will improve enough Thursday to begin looking for the two young men again. .
From inside the White Salmon Lodge at a snowed in Mt. Baker, resort general manager Duncan Howat asked the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office for any news over the radio; he hoped for good news but didn’t get it.
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“We are currently calling it for the day and we’re going to call it until this storm system moves through,” the voice on the radio told Howat.
Dozens of searchers, including Homeland Security and Border Patrol personnel, have been working to find Lenz and Amancio when weather permitted.
Howat has seen people survive for two days in such conditions.
“Now that we’re going into this long a period of time, it’s going to be extremely difficult - no food, they can get water, but hypothermia sets in when you’re damp and wet and sweaty,” he said.
Howat showed us on a map where the two snowboarders skirted the edge of the Baker boundary, likely reaching an elevation of about 5,000 feet. That is where rescuers have been concentrating their efforts, but that area is now under a shroud of gray.
“It’s a tragic thing, certainly for the family and the ski community, basically,” Howat said.
He also said it’s possible there could have been an avalanche, but there is no way of knowing that right now. We spoke with Amancio’s mother via Facebook. She says the pair were carrying avalanche beacons and equipment.
As of Tuesday evening, the decision was made to suspend the search until the current storm system moved through the area.
The sheriff’s office said Wednesday that it was not safe to put searchers into other areas of interest higher on the mountain, in the area of Table Mountain, that searchers have been unable to check because of extreme avalanche hazard.
The snowboarders' friends and loved ones are ready to help searchers anyway they can.
"They know the area, so they are helping to guide the search and rescue where they typically board. That way, they can help to hopefully narrow down the areas," said Jake Amancio's aunt, Jennifer Marrott.
She also hopes more volunteers with expertise will help.