Authorities could soon restrict access to Mount San Antonio, better known as Mount Baldy, after over a dozen hikers had to be rescued within the space of three weeks. The latest accident involved a 71-year-old man. who was rescued on Saturday January 28 after slipping and falling around 50ft.
When Abdollah Katbab got his bearings after the fall, he realized that he was unable to reach the trail again safely due to the steep slopes and treacherously icy conditions. As local news site the Claremont Courier reports, Katbab managed to alert emergency services using his Garmin inReach satellite communicator, which allowed operators to pinpoint his location on the mountain's icy slopes.
A helicopter was dispatched and good weather conditions meant that the crew were able to find Katbab relatively easily. He was still slipping occasionally, but seemed to be able to stop himself.
As the local sheriff's department explained in a press release, rescuers were able to reach him using technical gear including crampons. He was secured in a rescue harness and lifted to safety. He had suffered minor injuries to his arms, and received treatment from paramedics after landing.
New permit system
Katbab was lucky that the weather was on his side, but not all hikers lost and injured on Mount Baldy this month have been so lucky. Two people have died on the icy slopes in recent weeks, and the search for actor Julian Sands is continuing two weeks after he was reported missing.
Sands is an experienced mountaineer, but failed to return from a hike on the mountain on January 14. The search is being carried out by drone and helicopter, but high winds mean that rescuers sometimes have to pause their work until the weather settles.
Now, according to CBS Los Angeles, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says more needs to be done to keep the public safe.
"It's literally like an ice chute," said Corporal Ryan Peppler, who was part of the team that rescued Katbab. "You get on that, you are going to go for a ride."
A spokesperson explained that the sheriff's department can't close the mountain to prevent further accidents because the area is managed by the US Forest Service. However, it's working with authorities to develop a permit system, which would be enforced by rangers patrolling the trails. Hikers without permits or proper winter gear would face hefty fines.
For more details on the risks and how to hike the mountain safely, see our guide what makes Mount Baldy so dangerous.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).