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Stop hiking up Mount Baldy. It's dangerous.

Authorities working to limit access to Mt. Baldy after another deputies rescue another hiker
Authorities working to limit access to Mt. Baldy after deputies rescue another hiker 03:01

Stop hiking up Mount Baldy. It's dangerous.  

"It's literally like an ice chute," said Corporal Ryan Peppler, a pilot with one of San Bernardino's air rescue teams. "You get on that, you lose your footing, you are going to go for a ride."

This weekend, Peppler and his crew aboard Air Rescue 306, flew over the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains after yet another hiker, a 71-year-old man from San Diego, slipped and fell 50 feet in the Ice House Canyon area of Mt. Baldy. 

"We were able to hoist the gentleman out first, got him situated in the back of the helicopter and then came back in and picked up our rescuer," said Peppler. 

The dangerous conditions have prompted the San Bernadino County Sheriff's Department to work with legislators to create a strict permitting process to hike in the area. Additionally, they are hoping to enlist more rangers on the trails to check for permits and winter hiking gear. 

"They would have to show those permits on the trails to those rangers and face significant fines if they didn't have those permits," said spokesperson Mara Rodriguez.

In at least 14 missions this winter, search and rescue teams have risked their own lives trying to save injured hikers in the alpine conditions blanketing the San Gabriel Mountains nearly every weekend. Despite their best efforts, the high winds, coupled with the icy conditions, make it difficult for crews to find everyone that goes missing in the mountains, including British actor Julian Sands. The 65-year-old went missing nearly two weeks ago and has yet to be found.  

While people like the 71-year-old man from San Diego were rescued after terrible falls, others like Crystal Paula Gonzalez were not as fortunate. 

Referred to as the "Hiking Queen" by her friends and family, Gonzalez decided to turn back after watching an uncontrollable column of ice fall right past her. However, the mother of four slipped and fell over 500 feet down the notoriously difficult mountain terrain and hit a tree. Injured and in dire need of help, rescue teams tried their best to make it to Gonzalez in time, but the conditions prevented them from hiking up to her or even flying to her. 

"Due to the slope angle and the ice, it makes it too dangerous to hike so we had to lower her down by creating a rope system," rescue medic Eric Rose said two weeks ago. 

While she was an experienced hiker who had reached the top of Mountain Whitney — the tallest peak in the continental United States — Gonzalez died on that mountain. 

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