North Hills man rescued by helicopter 200 feet below Mount Baldy summit


MOUNT BALDY, Calif. (KABC) — 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.

The 46-year-old hiker from North Hills had wandered off trail and was hiking up the Baldy Bowl, directly toward the summit when he called 911 requesting assistance.

“He said he was more on the inexperienced level as far as hiking goes,” said Cpl. Ryan Peppler, a helicopter pilot with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department who was involved in the rescue. “He was using micro-spikes, which aren’t ideal for those kind of conditions.”

Peppler said the hiker began to get very tired and started to cramp up.

[He] called 911 saying he was just exhausted, and that he couldn’t hike up or down the mountain.”

Peppler said the winds were gusting at up to 30 knots, and at times, it looked like they wouldn’t be able to complete the rescue.

“It took me approximately 8 to 10 different attempts to try to get in there. At one point, I didn’t think we were going to even be able to do it just because it wasn’t safe. We kept getting a lot of updrafts and downdrafts.”

Rescue personnel were eventually able to make their way down to the distressed hiker, who was placed into a harness and lifted onto the rescue helicopter. He suffered minor injuries.

Peppler said the incident is yet another reminder of the dangers hikers face when traversing Mount Baldy this time of year.

“Although it is very beautiful, you can get up into that terrain where it’s very steep and rugged, and Mount Baldy is notorious for the extreme icy conditions,” said Peppler. “During the night, everything freezes up like an ice cube. During the day it melts, and it re-freezes at night.

“One wrong step on that terrain and you’re sliding for quite some time, and sometimes to your death.”

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