Hiker Slides 900-Feet Down ‘Ice Chute’ on California Mountain

by Jennifer Shea

A hiker slid 900 feet down a mountain ice chute in the Cucamonga Wilderness of Southern California on Sunday before rescuers airlifted him to safety.

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said in a press release obtained by SFGate that Jeaffreson Guevara had been hiking with his wife. Then, all of a sudden, he “slipped on ice and slid down the steep mountain.”

The couple had been hiking in the Ice House Saddle area when Guevara slipped. According to AllTrails, the Ice House Canyon to Ice House Saddle hike is “a 7.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Mount Baldy, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult.”

Rescuers Hoisted Hiker to Safety

After Guevara slid about 900 feet down the ice chute, some bushes stopped his descent. And he clung to them for dear life as he waited for help to arrive.

A rescue team decided that reaching him by foot would take too much time. So they reached out to the sheriff’s aviation unit.

The Helicopter 40 King 4 crew combed the vicinity until they found Guevara holding onto the bushes in the middle of the ice chute. The Air Rescue 306 crew then took over and went to get Guevara.

“An air medic trained in technical rescue was hoisted down to Jeaffreson approximately 120 feet,” the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said in the press release. “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 rescuer was Reserve Deputy Gordon Yee. Through the anchor system he set up, he and Guevara each made it back to the helicopter safely. The rescue crew then brought Guevara to a medical team for examination.

It is not clear what if any injuries Guevara sustained. But he was no doubt glad to be back on non-slippery turf and safely reunited with his wife.

Cucamonga Wilderness Under Threat from Large Groups

The Cucamonga Wilderness sits nestled amid the city landscape of the San Bernardino Valley. Its mountain peaks vary from 5,000 to 9,000 feet high. The wilderness features 18 miles of trails. Wildlife in the area ranges from deer and bears to mountain lions and bighorn sheep, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

In recent years, the Forest Service has struggled with large groups who visit the Cucamonga Wilderness in defiance of the 25-person limit and the permit requirement for groups. And that has taken its toll on the Congressionally-designated wilderness.

“These groups tend to be larger than the average group size, and combined with the high visitor use already occurring, are having a negative impact on the resources,” the Forest Service wrote. “Groups often ignore the regulations posted at trailheads, or they are unaware of the impacts of their over-use.”