15 Mt. Baldy hikers rescued in less than a month amid extreme winter weather: Sheriff

The number of rescues that authorities are conducting on Mt. Baldy continue to increase amid extreme winter weather conditions that have triggered warnings to even the most experienced hikers.

In less than one month, fifteen people have been rescued, two have died, and one remains missing, officials with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Aviation said.

"The negative four degree wind chill with freezing, icing conditions, high winds, steep, loose slippery terrain, changing temperatures-you can see why rescues, injuries and deaths are inevitable," the department said. "Be prepared for extreme alpine conditions."

"If there’s snow or bad weather, consider hiking Mt Baldy on another day. Every winter hikers die on Mt Baldy, even those with mountaineering experience. It’s real and you need to take it seriously."


Last week, 75-year-old hiker Jin Chung was found alive two days after he was reported missing on Jan.22 after he failed to return from a hike on Mt. Baldy. Officials say he was located on the side of the mountain and walked down on his own. Deputies say it was a "miracle" Chung was mostly unharmed after suffering some weather-related injuries and a leg injury.

Meanwhile, the search continues in the San Gabriel Mountains for two other missing hikers - Hawthorne resident Robert Gregory and actor Julian Sands.   

Mt. Baldy is the same area where Sands was reported missing Jan. 13 while hiking.

Sands was hiking the popular Baldy Bowl Trail, which climbs to nearly 4,000 feet over close to five miles to the highest summit in the San Gabriel Mountains. Sands' car was recovered in the area.

Just days before Sands disappeared, Gregory was reported missing by family after he did not return home from his hike near Mount Islip.  Gregory's son told local media his father was an experienced hiker and was familiar with the terrain. 

According to a message posted by Gregory's sister to the All Trails community Facebook group, Gregory, who she described as an "avid hiker," last posted he was at "Windy Gap to Mount Islip to the Big Cienega Trail."

Authorities continue to urge people - even the most experienced hikers - to think twice and consider the extremely dangerous conditions on Mt. Baldy due to the recent storms.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.