Recent deaths on Mount Baldy spur warnings to hikers

Rob McMillan Image
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Recent deaths on Mount Baldy spur warnings to hikers
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Hikers are being urged to use extreme caution when visiting Mount Baldy after two hikers have fallen to their deaths in the past month.

MOUNT BALDY, Calif. (KABC) -- Hikers are being urged to use extreme caution when visiting Mount Baldy after two hikers have fallen to their deaths in the past month.

According to a San Bernardino County sheriff's department news release, the most recent death occurred on Sunday when a hiker slid an estimated 500 to 700 feet down Baldy Bowl's steep and icy slope.

"The Baldy Bowl is very steep; it's about 50-degree slope angle," said San Bernardino County sheriff's corporal Eric Rose. "If you hit an icy portion of the trail, you can fall down those ice chutes and that's unfortunately what we had in this incident."

The victim was identified by family members as Crystal Paul Gonzalez-Landas. A group of hikers witnessed her fall and used her Garmin InReach device to send a SOS message. A San Bernardino County sheriff's department rescue team responded to the steep, icy terrain by helicopter, but they were delayed repeatedly because of bad weather.

"We tried maybe three or four times, but the clouds just went lower and lower in altitude," said the helicopter's pilot, deputy Doug Brimmer. "It was probably the fifth try when we were able to go back up there, get under the clouds and hoist them out of there.

"But unfortunately, during that time, CPR was in progress and the female had passed away."

Corporal Rose said it's important for hikers and mountaineers to have the proper clothing and equipment for not only hiking, but mountaineering.

"Up on Mount Baldy it's alpine conditions; we recommend crampons, not just micro spikes, an ice axe, a helmet, and most importantly the training and experience to use them."

The victim's family released the following statement to Eyewitness News:

"Our mother was a kind, loving, lively soul. She had a thirst for adventure that she instilled in all of us during childhood. She inspired us to be courageous and adventurous and introduced us to the great outdoors from her eyes.

"Friends and family often would describe her as kind, nurturing, compassionate go-getter. Crystal challenged us all to step out of our comfort zones. She helped to heal many of us during times of adversity through her own stories of perseverance."