Three skiers from British Columbia, two men and one woman, were skiing Wednesday on the Wapta Traverse, in the Wapituk range of the Rockies, when one of the men fell into a crevasse.
The missing skier has been identified as Mark Taylor, the parks manager with the City of Abbotsford.
"Everyone is in shock," said Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman. "The family has asked for privacy and we respect that. Everyone is hoping and praying that the outcome is going to be positive.... He is very tough, he has a tonne of experience and we remain hopeful."
The skiers were at an elevation of about 2,600 metres in Yoho National Park when Taylor fell.
“At that time, one of the party went to the edge of the hole and shouted and used their avalanche rescue beacon to try and see if they could get a signal, which he did, and the signal was weak at about 35 metres strength,“ said Brad White, a visitor safety specialist with Parks Canada.
“He took the rope and just dangled it at the edge of the hole. He was hoping there was someone on the other end who could grab on to it, to clip on to it, but that didn’t happen.”
The other two skiers activated emergency beacons and made an emergency shelter in the snow. They were rescued on Friday.
As soon as there is a prolonged break in the conditions rescuers will return to the glacier and resume rescue efforts, said Parks Canada spokesperson Omar McDadi.
- Popularity of backcountry skiing worries some in industry
"We definitely don't want to put the visitor safety crew and the rescue team in danger, and so that's a very high consideration,” he said.
“But we're also giving it our very, very best efforts in so much as it's safe to do, to try and get back there and to try to get access to the crevasse.”
An alpine rescue helicopter was able to touch down on the glacier late Sunday afternoon, but crews were unable to reach the mouth of the crevasse, McDadi said.
McDadi said many variables are working against the crew.
“This area is found at very high elevation in a very difficult to access terrain. We've had little co-operation with the weather. And the avalanche danger rating has been high throughout most of this time period so it's made for a very difficult rescue operation,” he said.