Hiker slides 900 feet down ice chute at Mt. Baldy

Jeaffreson Guevara and his wife were hiking back from a thwarted attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Baldy — 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 Sheriff’s Department.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 onto 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 fallen 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.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 and crampons, the website said.

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