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Search continued Wednesday for missing hiker

Man believed to be in Brandywine area



As of press time Wednesday, the rain and clouds continued to hamper the search efforts for a Vancouver man, who was reported missing in the Brandywine area on Sunday, Aug. 22.

Sam Black, a philosophy professor at Simon Fraser University, told friends and family members that he was hiking the Brandywine Meadow Trail on Friday, Aug. 20, camping overnight, and returning on Saturday. He also expressed an interest in hiking to Mount Fee, Brandywine Mountain and Metal Dome.

He didn’t report in on Saturday, so family members made the call to the RCMP on Sunday in the early afternoon. Shortly afterwards Black’s vehicle was found near the trailhead on the Brandywine Road.

The search currently involves members of Whistler Search and Rescue, Pemberton Search and Rescue, an RCMP dog team and two RCMP helicopters. The search area could be as large as 170 square kilometres, and Ted Pryce-Jones, the secretary of Whistler Search and Rescue, estimates that crews have searched just over 75 per cent of the area during breaks in the weather.

The man was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, a light rain jacket, and was carrying a tent and sleeping bag in his backpack. He had some food, but wasn’t expecting to stay out longer than a day.

"We’re hoping he’s hunkered down somewhere," Pryce-Jones said during a news conference Tuesday.

"Maybe he broke an ankle, maybe he’s lost the trails, maybe he’s somewhere where we can’t fly right now."

According to Pryce-Jones, Black was an experienced hiker who had looked at maps of the area and probably had a compass. He also knew enough to tell friends where he was and when he was due back.

"He seems like a good, level-headed guy, very sensible, and was well-prepared by most standards. He didn’t have a cell phone, unfortunately," said Pryce-Jones.

A group of 14-16 search and rescue workers have been on the ground from first light until dark every day since Monday, and Whistler Search and Rescue is putting out a call to help from Squamish and North Shore Search and Rescue to boost numbers and relieve tired crews.

"What we’re really hoping for is a break in the clouds and a little bit of luck, because our limiting factor right now is the weather," Pryce-Jones said. "We had choppers in there earlier, but the visibility just went and it wasn’t safe to keep them up there with the terrain."

Although the weather has cooled, the temperatures have stayed above the freezing level and there is no new snow in the alpine. In addition, the glaciers are all free of snow and the crevasses are visible if Black decided to climb one of the peaks.

"Basically we’re looking at a map and trying to eliminate as many areas as possible. If we knock off the areas we know that he isn’t, we’ll hopefully be able to narrow down where he is," said Pryce-Jones.