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Search Continues For Missing RCAF Climber

The search continues after Royal Canadian Air Forch search and rescue technician Mark Salesse went missing in an avalanche on the ice climb Polar Circus on Feb. 5.


Parks Canada reported that one member of the group released a small avalanche that took Salesse over a 60-metre cliff.

Six search-and-rescue specialist wanted to start the ground search with the help of two Parks Canada rescue dogs on Sun. Feb. 8.

Officials said the area remained too dangerous. More avalanche control was done in hopes of making the area safe enough to begin a search on Monday.

In what could only be described as an eerie coincidence, Salesse went missing on the same day that Canadian John Lauchlan died on Polar Circus in 1982 after being carried down steep pitches by an avalanche.

Ice Climber Goes Missing in Eerie Coincidence

Polar Circus is marked in Banff National Park

Official Press Release from Royal Canadian Air Force:

OTTAWA — A Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at 17 Wing Winnipeg, Sergeant Mark Salesse, is missing after an incident in a training exercise in Banff National Park, Alberta on Thurs. Feb. 5, 2015 at around 6 p.m. Mountain Time.

RCAF’s Facebook 

Sgt Salesse, an experienced SAR Tech was conducting routine mountain training with his team of other SAR Techs in an area known as Polar Circus when he was swept away by an avalanche.Parks Canada (Banff Visitor Safety Centre) is the lead agency coordinating the search and have Visitor Safety Specialists equipped with dog teams and air support working in the area to locate the missing individual.

Unrelenting snowfall has hampered search efforts along with significant avalanche hazards in the area.

Quick Facts
· Conditions in the area were clear when climbing began, but later deteriorated. After an initial search by his climbing partners, Parks Canada was contacted to initiate the rescue the evening of Thursday, February 5.

· Parks Canada Visitor Safety Specialists were unable to reach the Polar Circus route due to avalanche hazard, deteriorating weather and nightfall. Crews later attempted an aerial helicopter search of the area and search efforts continue in earnest.

· The search area is relatively small but the geography, weather and snow cover make for a complex search.

· More details will be released as they become available.

Upper pitches of Polar Circus after turning the Pencil
Upper pitches of Polar Circus after turning the Pencil  Photo Canadian Rockies Ice Specialists

“We are very concerned to learn a Canadian Armed Forces Search and Rescue Technician is missing as the result of an avalanche that took place during a training activity. We are hoping for the best possible outcome, and that our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of our Canadian Armed Forces member. ” -The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of National Defence

Mark Salesse  Photo RCAF
Mark Salesse Photo RCAF