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Letters to the Editor: Too many hikers are dying on Mt. Baldy. It’s time for a winter permit system

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To the editor: Mt. Baldy in our San Gabriel Mountains is a relatively easy jaunt in summer or early fall. But in winter or early spring, it is a serious climb with snow and ice. With an elevation of just more than 10,000 feet, ascending Mt. Baldy requires preparation in any season and some knowledge of the trails and the terrain. (“Mt. Baldy danger: More than 100 rescue, 10 deaths in recent years. A new push to save lives,” Aug. 10)

Too old to do serious climbing now but a mountaineer since the 1950s at UCLA, and a former trip leader and climbing safety instructor with the Sierra Club, I’ve summited more than 100 peaks, several more than once, including Mt. Baldy.

Here is my suggestion for reducing deaths and injuries on the mountain: Design and institute a permitting process for the snow season, and publicize it. As a part of that process, attempt some education of potential hikers regarding the time it takes to climb, the possibility of changing weather conditions and the other factors mentioned in the article.

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We should also consider requiring permits in all seasons, not just the winter.

Paul Cooley, Culver City

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To the editor: Some 40 odd years ago when I was young and dumb, I twice narrowly missed tragedy on Mt. Baldy, so I can attest to how dangerous that mountain is. Later I was a reporter for the local newspaper with part of my beat being the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s search and rescue team.

Many of the rescues had positive outcomes, but there were also so many that did not. I saw rescuers pull out people hundreds of feet below where they had been hiking. I saw them pull out people who suffocated from avalanches. I saw them rappel down to crushed cars that flew off the twisty roads.

It was never a pretty sight, and it was all because people usually went up the mountain on a lark for some fun, just as I did so many years ago.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the plans outlined in the article are going to make much difference. People will always do stupid things.

Peggy Ziegler, Pomona

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