Search and Rescue Skyline Trail

December 26-27, 2021
Mt. San Jacinto, CA.

Written by: Ray Weden

Late in the afternoon on December 26th, we received a call for assistance for a solo male hiker who was reported to be stuck on the ice near the 7,000 ft level on the Skyline Trail wearing only shorts and a t-shirt. As we arrived at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway we were informed that two more subjects who were not with our first subject were also stuck in the same area.

Caleb, Beth, Josh, and Rob were the hasty team sent to the last known location and quickly located the party of two. From there Caleb and Beth assisted them back up to the tram while Josh and Rob continued to search for our initial subject. When the two subjects made it back they gave us added information as well as cell phone pictures showing the area the solo subject was last seen. We were able to get the geolocation from the cell phone picture to pinpoint the exact location. With that information Josh and Rob spent a significant amount of time in that area looking. Still not finding him, Josh and Rob headed down the trail back to the museum trailhead parking area.

We moved our command post from the tramway to the museum parking lot in hopes that our subject was walking out on his own, back down the way he came, and we would find him there. Our other hope was that Josh and Rob would also find him while hiking out. Several hours later, Rob and Josh arrived at the trailhead without our subject around 3:30am.

We had another team coming in at 6am the next day, 12/27. Dana, Blake, and Donny made it up the tram shortly after 6am with Donny and Blake looking to head back to the last known location during the daytime with Dana managing the command post. After many hours searching that area as well as advising several other hikers in the area on how to safely travel on the ice we still could not find our subject. As plans were being made to expand the search, the Sheriff’s Department dispatch received a call that our missing person was back at his hotel requesting medical aid. He had spent a very chilly night off trail. The next morning while our team was searching at his last known area again, we had walked out to safety.

RMRU Members Involved:
Kase Chong, Shawn Dennstedt, Blake Douglas, Donny Goetz, Josh Gould, Tony Hughes, Beth Jeffery, Shani McCullough, Caleb Milner, Rob Newton, Dana Potts, Steven Ryder, and Ray Weden