Hiker slides 900 feet down ice chute near Mt. Baldy, plucked off mountainside by helicopter
Jeaffreson Guevara and his wife were hiking back from a thwarted attempt to reach the summit of a peak in the Mt. Baldy area — it was too treacherous a climb — when the snowy trail suddenly gave way Sunday.
Guevara, 45, rapidly slid about 900 feet down an ice chute of the steep mountainside before grabbing hold of some bushes, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
For the record:
8:26 p.m. Dec. 21, 2021A previous version of this story said the hikers were returning from an attempt to summit Mt. Baldy. The trail they were on led back from another peak in the area of Mt. Baldy.
While recuperating in bed Tuesday, the Los Angeles County resident described the descent “like going to a rollercoaster — down.”
“It’s good that I hung on to a branch,” he said by phone. “Because if not, I would be dead by now.”
Guevara tried to climb back up to the Icehouse Canyon trail, but it was too steep. His wife, whom he declined to identify, was able to find cellphone service and call for help.
Because it would take too long to reach Guevara by foot, deputies with the Fontana station called in the sheriff’s aviation unit, the department said in a news release.
It would take about three hours before a rescue crew arrived — around 3 p.m. — but Guevera had a backpack with some supplies, including an emergency blanket, he said.
A 40-King-4 helicopter team spotted Guevara clutching some bushes on the precipitous incline and called for assistance from Air Rescue 306, the Sheriff’s Department said.
During a coordinated effort, a medic trained in technical rescue was lowered about 120 feet.
“Once on the ground, the rescuer set up an anchor system and began the process of securing the fall victim in a harness to be hoisted out,” the Sheriff’s Department said.
Guevara, followed by the rescuer — identified as Reserve Deputy Gordon Yee — were hoisted up, and the hiker was transported to the hospital for evaluation.
Though badly bruised and sore, and temporarily unable to walk or work, Guevara said, “I’m lucky”: He escaped without head trauma or other life-threatening injuries.
“I’m in the process of healing,” he said, estimating it could take two weeks.
A series of winter storms now spinning off the Northern California coast could make it to Los Angeles by Friday, forecasters say.
Guevara had hiked in the area several times and had had “no problem.” But this time, he said, the trail was covered with snow and was unstable.
Icehouse Canyon is located near Mt. Baldy Village, southeast of Mt. Baldy, in “a beautiful stretch of the Angeles National Forest,” according to Hikespeak, which provides information on trails. A trail through the canyon leads up to Icehouse Saddle.
During the winter, when snow can blanket the landscape, many hikers choose to tackle the terrain in snowshoes with crampons, the website said.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.