Efforts to locate the actor Julian Sands, more than five months after he went missing while hiking in California, are to be scaled back, the San Bernardino county sheriff’s office has reported.

In a statement on Monday, the department said the missing person case for Sands remains open and that search efforts will continue in a “limited capacity”.

This follows a major drive on Saturday to locate the actor, involving more than 80 volunteers, deputies and staff as well as two helicopters and a drone crew.

“Unfortunately, Mr Sands was not located,” continued the statement, adding that despite the weather improving from conditions so severe they had substantially hampered earlier efforts, “portions of the mountain remain inaccessible due to extreme alpine conditions.

“Multiple areas include steep terrain and ravines, which still have 10-plus feet of ice and snow.”

Sands, an experienced mountaineer and climber, was reported missing on 13 January after failing to return from a solo hike in the Mount Baldy area of the San Gabriel mountains. His phone last pinged on 15 January.

Since then, the sheriff’s department has conducted eight searches and devoted more than 500 hours of combined search time to the hunt for the actor. In February, the sheriff’s department promised to “bring closure” to Sands’s family, who had praised their “heroic” efforts in attempting to find him.

Sands, 65, rose to fame with roles in the mid-80s with roles in The Killing Fields and A Room With a View, before going on to star in films such as Warlock, Arachnophobia, Boxing Helena and Leaving Las Vegas. He has three children.

In January his brother, Nick Sands, told the Craven Herald that although “he has not yet been declared missing, presumed dead, but I know in my heart that he has gone.”

Speaking to the Guardian in February to promote their new film together, John Malkovich – Sands’s best friend and frequent collaborator – said he suspected that Sands had fallen victim to “some sort of catastrophic and immediate error that was irreversible”.

“But he knew what the conditions were, and that’s what he loved to do. He found great solace in the solitude of that.”


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