An injured hiker who fell from the Devil's Backbone on Mount Baldy had to be lowered more than 1,800 feet by ropes during a night rescue in extreme winter storm conditions, search and rescue volunteers said of the Christmas Eve operation.
A second hiker who was injured in an unrelated accident on Mount Baldy also required rescue, and due to significant weather helicopter hoist rescues were not possible, volunteers and law enforcement officials said.
The two hikers were injured Dec. 23 in snow and ice conditions on 10,064-foot Mount Baldy, the highest point in Los Angeles County, said Chuck Stoughton of Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, who released details of the night rescue Thursday.
Alpine-trained volunteers from Montrose, San Dimas, San Bernardino County and Kern County also responded to the east side of Baldy around 5:30 p.m. that day.
"One of the injured hikers was stranded at over 9,300 feet on the mountain and was suffering from multiple serious injuries sustained in a fall along the Devil’s Backbone Trail," Stoughton said.
With helicopter rescue impossible on the storm-shrouded mountain, rescuers "lowered the subject over 1,800 feet by rope in a series of high angle lowers to the Sierra Club Ski Hut located near the base of Baldy Bowl and approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead," Stoughton said.
The technical rescue was conducted during the middle of the night in extreme mountain storm conditions that included high winds, snow, and freezing rain, Stoughton said.
The second hiker, who was injured in a different location, was also brought to the ski hut by rescue crews.
Rescuers and the injured hikers spent the night in the hut, called for additional personnel and carried the two hikers out on rescue litters, Stoughton said. They also escorted three uninjured hikers who required assistance.
"Once the trailhead was reached the injured hikers were loaded into waiting ambulances and transported to local hospitals for treatment," Stoughton said.
The San Antonio Ski Hut, built by volunteers in 1937, is at 8,300 feet elevation below Baldy Bowl, and it is a steep 3-mile hike from the trailhead at Manker Flat.
Mount Baldy, also known as Mount San Antonio, straddles the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county line. Its summit is the highest point in the San Gabriel range and in L.A. County.