Helicopter Rescue Baldy Bowl

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 34.28890°N / 117.6458°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Apr 9, 2005

Mt. Baldy Snow Climb and Glissading Accident

Arriving at Mt. Baldy SummitAt the summit
View from Mt. Baldy SummitView from Baldy summit
This was a Sierra Peaks Section snow climb of the Baldy Bowl. We left Manker Flat at 7am and hoofed it up the Ski Hut Trail. When we got to the ski hut we noticed some commotion and a ranger informed us that a climber had fallen down some portion of the bowl and broken a leg and suffered contusions. Rescue personnel had already gotten to him, stabilized him, and placed some protection between him and the snow he was sitting in while waiting for extraction. From the hut area, we could see the injured party sitting and waiting.

We put on our crampons a little past the hut and headed up. As we climbed, we kept our eyes on the scene below of the pending rescue. It was approaching two hours since we first saw the fallen climber when the helicopter appeared. Watching the chopper gingerly maneuvering above the rescue site made one appreciate that sending a machine like that into mountain terrain is no routine walk-in-the-park. It was impressive watching that whirly-bird hover in one place and hoist the injured party into its belly. Job well done!

But it seems that this unlucky victim of the Baldy Bowl was a precursor of things to come. For it was exactly one week later that mountaineer /mountain guide author RJ Secor took his horrible fall down the Bowl after starting a glissade. Secor apparently ended up near the ski hut just as today's victim had.

After the rescue, we continued up. The chute we went up didn't seem particularly steep, but it gave us a good work-out nevetheless. We summitted at 12:35 pm and enjoyed the views for a bit. Above is a picture of two of our party arriving at the summit and one summit view photo. On the descent, we picked out a route where we could enjoy some safe glissading. We were back at Manker Flat before 3:30 and so everyone was able to get back down to sea level before dinnertime.

Post Script: The Victim's Report

Rescue Helicopter in Baldy BowlRescue helicopter (center) hovering over victim
Injured Climber Waiting for RescueVictim of glissading accident waiting for helicopter evacuation
Recently, an SP member who read this report recognized himself as the victim in the accident. He was lucky. In the first place, just as he came to rest at the bottom of the bowl, a ranger happened to be hiking in his direction and was able to stabilize him and initiate rescue operations.

The victim said that his helmet saved him from head injury because he tumbled through a lot of rock. His injured leg required a metal fitting and his belly was cut up and bruised by the rock and ice he slid over when his jacket pulled up in the fall. But he said he did Baldy again two months later -- on the trail this time. Above is a picture of him sitting in the snow waiting for rescue and one of the chopper (very middle of pic) hovering over the rescue site.


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Viewing: 1-4 of 4

tkoooooooooo - Jul 4, 2006 7:29 am - Hasn't voted

i think this was me

i saw this was posted in 2006, but it sounds almost exactly descriptive of my fall down the baldy bowl, and a famous climber fell a short time after me. just curious. I fell I think the 9th of april 2005.

Augie Medina

Augie Medina - Jul 5, 2006 10:23 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: i think this was me

Yes, that was the day I was describing in my report. If I'm not mistaken, you were wearing a red jacket. I just read your report on the Baldy Climber's log. Wow, you were lucky. Very few people fall that far and are able to tell about it. The following week RJ Secor was a lot less lucky than you. He is still rehabing. How was your recovery? A shattered leg sounds like it could incapacitate you for a while. I have a couple of photos of you sitting on the ground waiting for rescue (they are far away shots) which I'll send you when I get a chance to dig out my photo disk of that outing. Let me know how you're doing.


tkoooooooooo - Jul 27, 2006 3:24 am - Hasn't voted

Re: i think this was me

I recovered fairly very well. I was quite lucky. My helmet saved me from head injury. I tumbled over quite a bit of rock. I got a plate screwed in my leg and no cast. Just metal. My coat slid up when I was falling and cut up my belly on the rock and ice. Surprisingly I was climbing again in two months. Exactly two months later I was up on top of baldy again...I took the trail that time. And I spent the next couple months climbing all the volcanos in washington. Yeah, I heard about RJ. I hope he is doing better now.
anyways, if you could email me some pictures, I'd love it. I managed to get ahold of that video taped the whole rescue. my email address is thatcher@biola.edu

Augie Medina

Augie Medina - Sep 19, 2009 8:56 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: What are the chances...

Interesting things happen on SP, no?


Viewing: 1-4 of 4