6 stranded hikers rescued, airlifted off Mount Baldy

This comes days after the body of an El Monte woman was found on the mountain after she went missing during a hike.

Michelle Fisher Image
Friday, February 16, 2024
6 stranded hikers rescued, airlifted off Mount Baldy
Investigators said they were stranded in the snow at 9,000 feet near the top of Mount Baldy on Bear Canyon Trail. After several hours, the hikers had to call 911 for help.

MOUNT BALDY, Calif. (KABC) -- Six hikers were rescued Wednesday after they got stranded in the snow near the top of Mount Baldy as the sun was quickly setting, and they weren't prepared if they had to spend the night on the mountain, according to authorities.

Investigators said the group of men, all in their 20s, got stuck in the snow at 9,000 feet near the top of Mount Baldy on Bear Canyon Trail. First responders said there was two feet of snow, and the temperature dropped to 14 degrees with the wind chill.

Video posted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Special Enforcement Bureau showed the dramatic rescue in which deputies carefully led the hikers to safety.

"We probably had about 30 or 40 minutes left of daylight," said Deputy Sheriff Robert Springer with LASD's Special Enforcement Bureau. "They were lost. I think they had essentially taken a wrong turn at some point, off the trail, which happens pretty frequently up there."

Springer, a tactical paramedic with LASD's Air Rescue 5 team, said despite the spotty cell service, the group was still able to text 911 for help.

Rescue crews performed a "one wheel operation" to load the hikers quickly.

"Hoisting one person at a time would have taken us a very long time to do," explained LASD Deputy Sheriff Ted Gomez. "To 'one wheel' on top of that platform up there was the better option and probably the easier option for the whole operation."

Crews ultimately hoisted the hikers out of the mountain, airlifting them to safety.

"My understanding too is that these people that went up were not really prepared, did not have food, shelter or extra clothing to last them over the night in case they got stuck," said Gomez.

Earlier this week, a 46-year-old hiker from North Hills had to be rescued after he wandered off trail while hiking up the Baldy Bowl, directly toward the summit.

"[He] called 911 saying he was just exhausted, and that he couldn't hike up or down the mountain," said Cpl. Ryan Peppler, a helicopter pilot with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department who was involved in that rescue.

READ MORE | North Hills man rescued by helicopter 200 feet below Mt. Baldy summit

The day after a 22-year-old missing hiker was found dead on Mount Baldy, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's aviation team was summoned to the mountain yet again to rescue another hiker in distress.

Those two incidents are reminders of the dangers hikers face when traversing Mount Baldy this time of year.

Lifei "Ada" Huang, a woman from El Monte, went missing while hiking in the Mount Baldy area amid the recent winter storm. She was found dead last week, according to authorities.

According to forecasters, more rain and snow is expected this weekend.

"That's an important thing for people to realize; Mount Baldy is a serious alpine environment during the winter," said Springer. "In the summer, it's a much different mountain than it is in the winter."