As dangerous conditions hamper search for Julian Sands, some hikers still braving Mount Baldy

ByABC7.com staff KABC logo
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Mount Baldy: Some hikers ignoring warnings to brave icy slope
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At least two hikers have died on Mount Baldy this winter and a third, actor Julian Sands, has been missing for days.

Despite warnings of dangerous, potentially deadly conditions, some hikers are continuing to brave the slopes of Mount Baldy.

At least two hikers have died on Mount Baldy this winter and another, actor Julian Sands, has been missing for almost a week.

There have been 14 different rescue operations carried out on the mountain in just the past month.

Rescue agencies say the conditions are so treacherous they had to withdraw ground crews in the search for Sands. Instead the search has been primarily carried out by drones and helicopters.

Recent storms dropped heavy snowfall in the area. But high winds and temperature changes left many areas covered in ice. And the top of the mountain remains shrounded in cloud cover.

A digital road sign in the area cautions: "WARNING ICY TRAILS / HIKING NOT ADVISED."

Still, ABC7 cameras spotted some hikers approaching the mountain on Thursday.

Hiker Richard Rubinoff felt confident in the gear he was toting.

"Like, one step at a time," he said. "I know it's dangerous. I've got big skis. So hopefully they're stable."

Rubinoff is heading up into the same area where Sands was heading when he went missing.

Experts recommend against it.

"Hiking up here during the wintertime, you have to be super-careful. We don't recommend it," said Ole Ellingson with the Mount Baldy ski resort.

"It's not advised. Especially after snowfall. There's gonna be areas you think are good to hike on. But next thing you know, you're sliding."

Also known as Mount San Antonio, Mount Baldy is the tallest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains with a summit more than 10,000 feet up.

It's a popular spot for hiking - and for rescues. Even during warmer months, the slopes can be treacherous during the rain, with the potential for mudslides. And even some members of rescue crews have fallen to their deaths in searches for lost hikers.

Recent deaths on Mount Baldy spur warnings to hikers