Sands, 65, was reported missing during a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area of the San Gabriel mountains on Friday (13 January), as searches by local authorities continue by “helicopter and drones when weather permits”.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department previously said that phone pings showed Sands to be heading to the Mount Baldy area two days after he was first reported missing.
However, the US department has since clarified to the PA news agency that those pings were delayed and showed his movements on the day he went missing on 13 January.
The development comes after the department said there is still “no hard deadline” for calling off the search one week after he was first reported missing in the southern Californian mountains.
The US authorities said the incident was still being classified as a search and rescue operation, though snow, sleet and fog continued to hinder operations on foot.
As of Thursday (19 January), visibility at high altitudes in the Mount Baldy area remained poor, with searches to continue when conditions permitted.
“We will schedule another ground search when the weather improves, and it is safe for our ground crews,” a spokesman from the department told the PA news agency.
Earlier on Thursday, Sands’ family towed his car from a car park where it was discovered during the search.
Mount Baldy residents noted the “extreme” conditions but said they would not “rule anything out” in the mission to find Sands.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department previously urged hikers to “think twice and heed warnings”, saying its search and rescue teams had responded to 14 calls on Mount Baldy and in the surrounding area over the last four weeks.
That same day, The Independent revealed images sent from Sands to his grandson Billy in September, which show the father-of-three mountaineering.
Additional reporting by Press Association