Hiker shares details of dangerous Mount Baldy trek: 'It was pretty much just death on both sides'

This comes as two hikers, including British actor Julian Sands, remain missing in the San Gabriel Mountains.

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
21-year-old hiker miraculously survives dangerous Mount Baldy trek
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As search and rescue crews continue to work tirelessly to locate two missing hikers in the San Gabriel Mountains, one of which is British actor Julian Sands, another hiker recently found himself in danger on Mount Baldy.

MOUNT BALDY (KABC) -- As search and rescue crews continue to work tirelessly to locate two missing hikers in the San Gabriel Mountains, one of which is British actor Julian Sands, another hiker recently found himself in danger on Mount Baldy.

Tack Sappington went hiking Friday, Jan. 13, the same day Sands went missing, and found himself caught up in a harrowing ordeal - with no equipment to save him.

"I know I'm extremely blessed and fortunate to be alive after that," he said.

The 21-year-old, who describes himself as an avid hiker, was alone for the first time near the Devil's Backbone area when he got stuck along a steep icy trail.

"I didn't have an ice axe or crampons, a rope or a helmet or any of the equipment you need for the conditions like that," he said.

He said he sat down and tried to scoot down the mountainside, but fell several feet, landing on a narrow ledge.

"I looked down and it was pretty much just death on both sides if I looked down," he said. "It's much too steep."

Sappington called 911 and a search and rescue helicopter arrived soon after, spotting him on the ledge. A second helicopter arrived a short time later but was unable to land.

That's when deputies gave Sappington instructions over a loudspeaker, but the 21-year-old couldn't understand. He said the helicopters ended up leaving - he was afraid they weren't going to come back.

He said he tried to climb but slipped and fell again.

"I remember seeing the rocks and trying not to hit them and so I'd be facing the rocks like while I was airborne and I would try to cover my head," he said.

Sappington ended up landing near a stream and was able to walk to an area where rescuers found him and took him to a hospital. Though he was left badly bruised and remains in pain, Sappington said he's grateful to be alive.

"Very very few people come back from something like that," said that.

Meanwhile, the changing weather conditions have impacted search efforts for Sands and the second missing hiker, Bob Gregory.

Evidence of avalanches have been observed this week, limiting where ground search and rescue can go, but helicopter searches are continuing.

Recent deaths on Mount Baldy spur warnings to hikers