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Search for two missing snowboarders at Mt. Baker remains suspended

Jake Amancio, 22, and his friend, Drew Lenz, 20, went snowboarding on Sunday in the backcountry near Heather Meadows. The men, who live in Bellingham with other friends, were expected home by early evening, and when they didn't return their roommate called 911. (Photos courtesy: Whatcom County Sheriff's Office)

MT. BAKER, Wash - The search for two missing snowboarders on Mt. Baker remained suspended on Wednesday due to treacherous weather conditions.

Jake Amancio, 22, and his friend, Drew Lenz, 20, went snowboarding on Sunday in the backcountry near Heather Meadows. The men, who live in Bellingham with other friends, were expected home by early evening, and when they didn't return their roommate called 911.

"(Jake's) friends knew right away that something wasn't right because they knew he was due back," said Jake's mother Lisa Amancio speaking by phone.

On Monday morning, Whatcom County Sheriff's deputies found the truck the men drove to the ski area parked in the upper lot and began a search with volunteers. The weather conditions, however, have proved to be a challenge for searchers.

"It's gone from essentially, since Sunday, we had a 10-inch base at this elevation to 50 inches, and huge amounts of wind, low visibility," said Duncan Howat, the President of the Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Howat said ski workers did a transceiver search on Monday to listen for emergency beacons, but did not find any sign of the men.

They're searching an area with extreme terrain.

"It's very steep, can be steep, can be avalanches at any time, holes and cliffs and just a multitude of things that are out there," said Howat.

Both Lenz and Amancio grew up in Stanwood. Amancio said her son has an “adventurous soul” and she just wants him home.

"I'm not doing well," said Amancio. "I want my son to come home. I want him to walk through the door and be warm. We're all here waiting for him."

In the meantime, ski workers, preparing for opening day on Thursday, are now keeping an eye out for any signs of the missing snowboarders.

"It's a very unfortunate situation," said Howat. "You really need to know what you're doing, in preparation, if you're going into the backcountry because the hazards are there."

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