[LASD] – The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team was called out Sunday at 5 p.m. to assist a hunter who was unable to get out of the Frenchman Flats in Pyramid River gorge area. The 53-year-old man hunter had been traversing the north ridge above a creek when he changed his course and attempted to climb down from a ridge into the creek. The hunter intended to cross the creek and come back on the south side of a trail.
As darkness approached, the hunter had reached a vertical section just above the creek and could not go down any further. Given the darkness, the hunter was not willing to attempt the steep up-climb to get him back onto the ridge.
Santa Clarita Valley Search and Rescue team members deployed on the south side of the creek. At this time of the year, the creek is not easy to cross. This particular creek was over four feet deep in sections, with swift water conditions.
While several of the team members and a few accompanying patrol deputies hiked in on the south side of the creek, the Los Angeles County Fire Department responded to the rescue team’s request to bring in a helicopter to attempt locating the stranded hunter.
The Fire Department helicopter was able to locate the hunter. Steep terrain and tight space between the canyons prohibited a helicopter evacuation. The fire helicopter instead lit the area of the stranded hunter with its beacon, providing direction for rescue team members.
After an hour-and-a-half hike which included steep terrain and the use of safety ropes for passage, the Search and Rescue team finally reached a spot adjacent to the hunter. Team members could see him across the river and up 40 feet of steep to vertical slope.
The team was able to secure the hunter with a safety rope and lower him to a river bank. The hunter was then secured in a harness, attached to the safety line, and guided across the river.
Team members followed and returned along the south bank to a mobile command post they had set up.
While hiking alone is not always the safest practice, this hunter had done a number of things correctly that helped lead to him being rescued. The hunter’s cellphone had proven useful in notifying deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station of his general location. The hunter had a flashlight, safety reflective tape, water, and food. He was prepared, if necessary, to stay the night in a sleeping bag that he had with him.
As it turned out, the precarious position the hunter had gotten into would have been a tough place to wait out the night. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Search and Rescue team was glad to have assisted the hunter in getting back to safety and on his way to join his family.