Searches for Palenville native Steven Beare, who went missing while climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia, were officially called off after two weeks of looking for him.
Beare, an avid climber, soon-to-be father of two and husband to Olivia Beare, went to Russia to climb the mountain and started his ascent on June 14 and was expected to check in with an official and his wife on June 16.
When he failed to check in, the Russian Search and Rescue team began looking for him, a search they called off Wednesday.
Olivia, who is 11 weeks pregnant with their second child, said in a statement that searches would be scaled back this week and announced Thursday that the man heading the private search team Olivia hired, Don Bowie, a professional climber from Alberta, Canada, was packing up and leaving Russia on Friday.
“Don will be leaving [Friday]. He has requested that anyone that feels they have found people to go out and search for Steven to please contact him directly so that he can continue to manage and organize where people have searched or are searching,” Olivia said on the Facebook page made to help find Steven. “It is vital to the search that people are not just going out on their own searching as they feel fit, they must contact him.”
Bowie said he was in France when he heard Steven had disappeared and volunteered his services.
“I had an emotional connection with Olivia and Steven without even knowing them. I knew this would be a good use of my skills,” he said. “The search is still active.”
Although the local team officially called off its search Wednesday, they were back out on the mountain with a team of 19 climbers.
“There are also volunteer groups working in tandem with the local team,” he said.
Bowie, who has search and rescue experience, characterized the search on Mount Elbrus as a treacherous one.
“It is a massive peak and a complex search area,” he said.
Beare is believed to have disappeared in a powerful snowstorm as he scaled the face of the 18,510-foot-high mountain, the tallest in Europe.
Bowie said there are two routes, one from the north and one from the south, that are easy climbs because hundreds of people walk on them every day, compacting the snow.
“The trails are well marked and cleared,” he said. “But once you go a couple meters off the routes there are thousands of crevasses. When we landed the helicopter, we had to rope ourselves to the skid, because you never know if you are on a crevasse.”
Mount Elbrus is the home of three dormant volcanoes and Bowie said the cone shape of the mountain causes climbers to see every direction as downward.
“There is little indication where [Steven] could have gone,” he said. “We know for sure he was at the hut he was supposed to be staying in because he left some of his gear behind. There were reports that he was seen near the summit of the mountain.”
Bowie said Steven would have been one or two hours below the summit when the storm, which caused the local team to pause its search, hit the mountain on June 14.
“The visibility at that point would have been nonexistent,” Bowie said. “He was probably wandering. We use probability to determine people’s possible routes in order to find them. But there is no way for us to know which way Steven went.”
“He would have had to make it to a very low elevation to get out of the storm, which is very unlikely,” he said. “Right from the start you hope for the exceptions, that people are still alive.”
The Colorado Police Officers Foundation is still raising money to help Olivia and the search for Steven.
“I want to express my gratitude for the many ways my family has been helped and encouraged,” Olivia said in her statement. “These difficult times have been eased by so many acts of kindness.”
The press release distributed by the Littleton Police Department, where Steven was an officer, said the family was asking for privacy to deal with the coming weeks.
“I do not want to give up hope,” said Greene County Legislator Matt Luvera, who knows Steven and Olivia from Saint Patrick’s Church. “I ask everyone to support the family any way they can and to pray for them.”
The U.S. State Department did not respond to a request for comment by press time.