By Mary O’KEEFE
On Friday, members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team responded to hikers who found themselves stuck on a cliff, unable to climb up or down.
“A guy and his girlfriend went on a hike in the Sylmar area behind Veterans [Memorial] Park and got stuck cliff side,” said Mike Leum, MSR.
The two hikers, unprepared for a long hike, apparently saw an area above a trail that they thought was a plateau. They decided to hike up to it and, as they got closer, they realized it was not what they thought it was; by that time it was too late and they were stuck.
“The [male hiker] had his cellphone and called 911,” Leum said. The call eventually arrived at the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station and MSR was called out about 11 a.m. The stranded hikers had begun their hike at 7:30 a.m.
An airship from Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. spotted the two hikers. The MSR members arrived and two of them were flown to the top of the cliff.
“We determined we could not use the [helicopter hoist] to get to the hikers,” Leum said. “Because of the Station Fire the ground is unstable.”
It would have been too dangerous for the helicopter to get too close, so the team decided to climb down to the hikers who were about 400 feet over the side of the cliff. MSR members lowered ropes and climbed down.
Leum spent some time with the hikers to determine whether they were injured. They then all hiked to the top of the cliff and walked down.
With the weather improving and many who find themselves with free time over the holidays, many hikers – both novices and avid – will head to areas like the Angeles National Forest. Leum reminds everyone that whether they are going for a few hours or a few days to fill out a hiking plan.
“Let someone know where you are going,” Leum advised. “Have a strategy.”
In addition, he said to be prepared for the unexpected. The two hikers who were rescued on Friday had only planned on going out for a few hours. They did not have any food or jackets and although the days are warmer, the nights are still cold.
“Know your limitations,” Leum added. “I understand the desire to explore, but people need to be prepared.”