A week and one day ago, Clorrica Riggs left her home in Whistler Blackcomb staff housing, telling friends she was heading out for a walk. Her silver Toyota RAV4 was later found parked at the trailhead to Rainbow Lake, but she hasn't been seen since.
Friends, family members and strangers are now asking for the community's help as they continue looking for the 29-year-old after authorities reportedly called off the search.
Whistlerites are invited to join a community search scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. on Thursday morning, Sept. 1. Volunteers will meet at the Rainbow Trailhead parking lot, where a command centre will be set up and teams will be deployed to scope out specific areas of Rainbow Mountain. Participants are asked to come prepared with food, water, a fully charged cell phone, and knowledge of their ability to complete the hike. Volunteers are also encouraged to download the Gaia Maps app on their phones prior to the search, which will help keep track of terrain already covered and collate the data in one place.
In an email, Riggs' friends described her as "the most kind, loving, goof ball” who "is always ready for an adventure" and loves to travel. The group of seven friends—Kalina Billings, Amanda Nordeen, Ashley Brien, Natasha Matthes, April Strandlund, Rachelle Dunn and Barnabas Bekei—drove to Whistler from Alberta after learning about Riggs’ disappearance. "Most of us have cherished her as our best friend for around [eight] years. She means the absolute world to all of us, and everyone she meets she changes their lives,” they wrote.
Whistler RCMP first issued a news release asking for the public's help to find Riggs on Wednesday morning, Aug. 24. At the time, police said they were concerned about Riggs' "mental wellness."
According to Billings, police conducted a thermal imaging survey of the Rainbow Lake area in the days following Riggs’ disappearance that ultimately proved unsuccessful, as temperatures in Whistler climbed into the low 30s from Aug. 23 to 25.
Though Riggs’ friends said the 29-year-old is a smart, avid hiker who always remembers to tell someone where she is heading, “Clorrica very commonly left the beaten trail and would explore the woods. We're all still concerned that Clorrica may have become injured in the dense woods, which we have not been able to effectively search on foot,” Billings told Pique in a message on Monday. “An aerial thermal scan could help pinpoint Clorrica if she is injured and unable to seek help.”
Billings said Riggs’ family requested a second thermal scan over the weekend. Police reportedly denied that request Monday.
“We're told that that service is a limited resource, and that the RCMP is not willing or able to deploy it again,” Billings wrote. “However, thermal imaging is likely the best way of finding Clorrica alive.
“We're appealing that decision vigorously, but aren't being given a satisfactory answer as to why this potentially life saving tool isn't being used.” Billings said police suspended any active searches for Riggs on Aug. 25, two-and-a-half days after she went missing.
Reached on Tuesday, Aug. 30, the Sea to Sky RCMP was unable to comment on the case ahead of Pique's deadline.
According to a Facebook post written by an extended family member on Monday, Riggs was the subject of three “extensive” Whistler Search and Rescue missions conducted on foot and two helicopter grid searches over Rainbow Mountain, while a dog team headed out on both Aug. 23 and 24. Searchers have also used e-bikes and ATVs to scour the terrain, while a private helicopter took to the skies on Aug. 29 to survey the Rainbow Lake, Madeley Lake and Hanging Lake areas.
“We are now in a situation where there is no further ‘formal’ search planned,” the post read.
Riggs’ friends have also been tackling as many trails and as much terrain as they've been able to, in an attempt to retrace any steps she may have taken. "We only have the last known location of her vehicle to go on at this moment,” they said. “Along with the hard reality that she has been struggling with her mental health.”
Loved ones have now enlisted non-profit K9 search teams to continue the search. On Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 30, Billings launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for those volunteers’ expenses and accommodations in Whistler. “We believe this is our best chance at bringing Clorrica home,” Billings wrote in the campaign’s description. “Any excess of funds will be donated in Clorrica’s name to a local organization of her family's choice.”
The GoFundMe has already raised more than $7,500.
Riggs is Caucasian with a fair complexion, brown eyes, long, straight brown hair and a slim build. She stands at five feet (152 cm) tall and weighs approximately 119 lbs (54 kg). She was last seen wearing black spandex Nike shorts, a dark blue top, teal running shoes, and carrying a black Helly Hansen backpack, with her teal green phone in hand. Riggs also has several tattoos, particularly on her arms and hands.