3rd snowboarder in 3 months missing on Mt. Baker

Twenty-four-year-old snowboarder Vitaliy Datskiy was reported missing Sunday afternoon after witnesses say they last saw him near the highest point of the Mount Baker ski area. In the last three months, three snowboarders have gone missing on the mountain.

Search called off for 24-year-old Vitaliy Datskiy

Vitaliy Datskiy, 24, went missing while snowboarding in the Mount Baker Ski Area Sunday. He is the third snowboarder to go missing in the area since November 2017. (Vitaliy Datskiy/Facebook)

Rescue crews have suspended the search for the third snowboarder in as many months to go missing in the Mount Baker wilderness.

Twenty-four-year-old Vitaliy Datskiy was reported missing Sunday afternoon by his friends after he failed to meet them at a pre-arranged location. The Washington state resident was snowboarding within the designated boundaries of the Mount Baker Ski Area. 

Ski patrol and the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office launched an immediate search, but severe weather conditions forced rescuers to stand down Wednesday.

Witnesses saw Datskiy enter a marked high-risk zone at the highest point of the ski area. The area is not restricted but is flagged as dangerous.

"He went under two ropes in an extreme danger zone of the mountain. It is very expert terrain and borders cliff areas. It is a designated and marked zone," said Gwyn Howat, operations manager at the Mount Baker Ski Area.

Treacherous conditions

Howat said heavy snowfall and high avalanche risk have made the area too unsafe for the search to continue.

"We have been in a rare and significant storm cycle for the last eight days," said Howat.

"We have received as much snow in the last eight days here in the Pacific Northwest as Idaho and Colorado get in an entire winter."

According to Mount Baker Ski Area's snow report, in that time the mountain has received more than 3.5 metres of snow.

Howat said while conditions are too treacherous for the active physical search to continue, search teams are using technology to keep looking.

A night drone with thermal imaging has already been deployed, but results were unsuccessful. 

"We will do everything we can to resolve the situation, and our thoughts go out to all who were part of Vitaliy's life," said Howat.

3 in 3 months

Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks confirmed this is the third snowboarder to go missing in the area in three months.

"We don't want to second guess what these folks were doing, but there is an inherent amount of risk when you are in the ski area or backcountry, and it is important to have proper equipment and avalanche training," said Parks.

Jake Amancio, 22, and Drew Lenz, 20, were reported missing on November 12, 2017. The two men were snowboarding in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and were not within a designated ski area.