Missing Female Hiker

June 14, 2021
San Gorgonio Peak

Written by Vinay Rao.

On June 14th, RMRU received an OES (Office of Emergency Services) call for a lost hiker on San Gorgonio Mountain. At 11,503 feet San Gorgonio, the highest peak south of the Sierras, is an extremely popular hiking destination with multiple trails that lead to it from all directions.

The subject had begun her hike with a friend on June 13th via Vivian Creek. They hiked together until High Creek Camp, at approximately 9,200 feet, where the subject decided to take a break while her hiking partner continued to the peak. The last time they met each other was when the subject continued up and ran into her partner who had summited and was on her way down. Her partner descended to High Creek Camp and waited for the subject’s return. While waiting, she talked to a small group of hikers who stated that they had seen the subject returning down the trail but were not exactly sure of where they met. As evening approached, the friend became sufficiently worried and called 911. Given that the subject could have taken one of many trails leading down from the peak, the search “went OES” from the beginning and many SAR teams became involved.

James and Blake flying in.
Image by James Eckhardt.
Landing Zone below San Gorgonio Peak.
Image by James Eckhardt.

The initial RMRU group that responded – James, Blake, Kase and Shawn – were helicoptered in near the peak and were assigned to search drainage areas that lead south and southwest from the peak. The terrain was rough and, at least for James and Blake, involved a 20-foot rappel down a waterfall which had relatively low flow.

Beginning of Drainage that Blake and James went down.
Image by James Eckhardt.
James looking down drop to reppel.
Image by Blake Douglas.
Blake on Rappel.
Image by James Eckhardt.
Looking back up Canyon James and Blake decended.
Image by James Eckhardt.
James searching lower canyon in burn area.
Image by Blake Douglas.

As night approached the day teams wrapped up their search areas and the remaining RMRU team members – Vinay, Steven, and Rob – arrived. The evening team was assigned to go up Momeyer Trail which starts in Forest Falls and goes north. This team searched until approximately 4:00am on the 15th and returned to base.

The search for the subject continued the morning of the 15th and the subject was found in the early afternoon in an area known as the South Fork Cabin at approximately 7,100 feet. She was unhurt and grateful to be ultimately united with friends and family.

RMRU Members Involved: (Kase Chong, Shawn Dennstedt, Blake Douglas, James Eckhardt, Robert Newton, Vinay Rao, and Steven Rider)

Other search/support teams included: Rim of the World SAR, San Bernardino Cave Rescue Team, Sierra Madre SAR, West Valley SAR, Orange County SAR, San Gorgonio SAR, and the San Bernardino Sheriff/San Bernardino Aviation Unit.