Overdue cross-country skiers/climbers
By Glenn Henderson
Three people left Saturday morning to climb the North Face of Mt. San Jacinto, planning to stay the night on the peak and then ski out to Humber Park on Sunday afternoon. Sunday evening Christheld Anderson called the Sheriff's Office and reported her husband and two friends overdue. RMRU was called out and told to report to Snow Creek at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning. Landells Aviation was also called and met us at Snow Creek with pilot Brian Novak flying the helicopter.
Kevin Walker and I went up in the bird to see if we could locate the overdue hikers from the air before we started putting teams into the field. We flew up the North Face and over the drainages without any luck. When we got almost to the top we finally spotted some tracks leading up the North Face and over the top but soon lost the tracks in a maze of other tracks on the summit of Mt. San Jacinto. We searched around the hut near the mountain top and found the door open and tracks leading in and out but no one around. We then flew over Round Valley and saw two people crossing the valley on foot. Brian let Kevin and I off to talk to them. Sure enough they had climbed the North Face but they weren't the climbers that we were looking for. They said they were climbing the North Face and met up with the three we were searching for. It had been deep wet snow at lower elevations but extremely icy the last 1,000 feet to the summit, and this combination slowed them down. They reached the summit at about 10:00 p.m. Sunday night. Everyone was all right but they were out of stove fuel which meant they probably were out of water.
We took off again and soon found some skiers heading to Round Valley. We again landed in Round Valley and this time it was the three people we were looking for. We offered them a ride out but they said that they were fine and preferred to ski out to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and ride it down to Palm Springs where they would call someone to pick them up and take them around to Humber Park where their car was parked. We said OK and then flew back down to Snow Creek. We all then went to Banning for breakfast and then home.
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