The mountains around Los Angeles are big, rugged, and sketchy in winter, qualities urban hikers often underestimate, to sometimes fatal consequences. Within the last week, two men slipped on icy, snow-covered trails on Mt. Baldy and died and 12 people with various injuries were evacuated by helicopter. This morning, the Angeles National Forest shut down all hiking trails on Baldy, including the ultra-popular Devil’s Backbone Trail.
Early last Tuesday, Cal State Long Beach graduate student Daniel Nguyen was hiking with a friend on Devil’s Backbone when the friend slipped; Nguyen tried to save the friend, but he slipped instead, sliding 1,500 feet. On Saturday, Dong Xing Liu, 47, was hiking near the Icehouse Saddle with his wife-both slipped and fell, but only she survived.
“I’ve been in this department 30 years, and I can’t remember a day when we had so many rescues,” Mt. Baldy Fire Chief Graham Hendrickson told The Press-Enterprise newspaper.
The San Gabriel Mountains were hit by a storm on January 31 that dropped snow, then rain, leaving a glaze of ice across their steep slopes.
“It was super icy in parts of the mountains, and even experienced hikers were having problems with it,” Hendrickson said.
Top photo by Mt. Baldy Fire Department