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Rescuers battle brutal weather in search for missing mountain climber

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- It’s been seven days since Littleton police officer, Army veteran and Colorado National Guardsman Steven Beare was first reported missing while mountain climbing in Russia.

Beare set out June 14 to solo climb Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak. He was due back June 16, but never checked in.

Other climbers who were forced to turn around because of a snowstorm reported seeing Beare solo climbing toward the summit in close to whiteout conditions.

Because of bad weather, search and rescue operations are only just beginning. So far, each time rescue climbers have gone up, they have been quickly forced back down for safety.

An air search has not been launched because of heavy cloud cover and snow on the peak.

According to Beare’s wife, Olivia, private rescue helicopters she hired will try to search during a short break in the clouds expected Friday at noon (3 a.m. MDT).

“The biggest obstacle right now that my husband faces is the cold and the 4 feet of snow that was dumped in this blizzard,” she said Wednesday.

Olivia Beare has been working around the clock from her home in Highlands Ranch to coordinate rescue efforts in Russia’s southern mountains.

In addition to the helicopters, she also hired American mountaineer Don Bowie to search Mount Elbrus on foot. He was initially held up because of visa issues, but on Thursday, he was cleared to enter Russia.

Bowie spent Thursday traveling through the night to reach the mountain and plans to begin his search Friday afternoon.

With temperatures expected to remain in the teens, rescuers are racing against the clock to find Beare.

“I’m really trying to have faith and believe that a miracle can happen,” Olivia Beare said.

The private helicopters cost $2,500 per hour to rent. The family is asking for donations to help cover the expense.