UPDATE | December 26, 2015
Early Saturday morning, December 26th, King County Search and Rescue crews were back on the mountain near Snoqualmie Pass to continue the search for missing backcountry skier, Monty Busbee, who is an experienced skier and described as extremely familiar with the area he went missing in one week ago.
Over the past week approximately 112 inches of snow fell in the Snoqualmie Pass area due to a series of pounding snow storms, which also made the avalanche risk extremely high for searchers.
SAR spokesman Alan LaBissoniere said 17 crews members were out looking for Busbee on Saturday, a day which is expected to bring a break from the snow. They plan to search until around 3:30PM.
LaBissoniere said, “We would all like to find him alive, but due to the [amount of] time out there, conditions and weather, it’s probably a recovery [mission].”
As a missing man’s family holds out hope, King County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue members have had to halt searching for a man who failed to return home Saturday night, December 19th, after backcountry skiing near Snoqualmie Summit. They will resume the search on Saturday, December 26th.
Crews had tried to search all day on Monday, but by 1PM weather conditions deteriorated, with heavy snow and increased avalanche danger halting their efforts. The same poor weather conditions once again kept crews from searching on Tuesday, December 22nd – and will keep the mission suspended until after Christmas.
SAR spokesman, Alan LaBissoniere said after re-evaluating conditions on Tuesday, the the tough call was made to pause the search for 43-year old Monty Busbee of Maple Valley.
Search Started Saturday Night
According to the King County Sheriff’s Office, Busbee parked his truck near the Lower Summit West parking lot on Saturday around 10am with the intention of skiing near Commonwealth Basin and the “Kendall Tree” area, with it being common for him to ski until darkness – an area very familiar to him.
His girlfriend called police Saturday night round 7:45PM when he didn’t come home and she could not reach him by cell phone. His truck was still parked at the Summit when search crews arrived.
Ski Patrol Avalanche Rescue Team (SPART) searched for him late into Saturday night, but suspended the search due to heavy snow fall and dangerous conditions.
Busbee is an avid, experienced outdoorsman and known to carry a backpack with supplies, as well as an avalanche beacon, but police said searchers would have to be in very close proximity to receive the beacon’s signal.
By Sunday morning, December 20th, King County Search and Rescue had about 30 members searching the mountain, including Ski Patrol Avalanche Rescue Team and Seattle Mountain Rescue.
Search and Rescue members said search conditions were poor due to heavy snow, bad roads and increasing avalanche danger, but they still managed to search most of the day.
Police asked anyone why may have seen Busbee or talked to him on Saturday to call 911 as they were working to determine if he may have taken another route. SAR crews did received a report that Busbee was seen in the target search area around 1:30PM on Saturday.
There were no reports of avalanches in the search area on Saturday – and an SAR spokesperson said crews did not find any debris fields to contradict those reports.
Crews were carefully monitoring avalanche conditions, which were predicted to remain high early this week. Even with the conditions, KCSAR was still able to send out five search teams (26 members) early Monday.
Heavy snow resumed at the pass on Monday as another strong storm pushed into Washington. A series of snow storms are predicted to impact the Snoqualmie Pass area through Christmas Eve.
Over three feet of snow has fallen at the pass since late last week, with over a foot falling just on Monday. The temperature has hovered around 30 degrees since Busbee went missing.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.