Skyline Trail Rescue

January 27, 2022
Mt. San Jacinto, CA.

Written by James Eckhardt

At 7:00PM on Thursday, we got a call that two hikers were stuck on skyline trail with a California State Parks ranger and a second ranger had fallen 100 feet and sustained possible leg and head injuries. As we drove up to the tram, we watched Rescue 9 fly over the subjects’ location. We were advised that Rescue 9 was able to hoist the injured ranger, however due to the steepness of terrain and snow conditions surrounding the others, Rescue 9 could not perform a hoist.

Once RMRU members had assembled, we rode up the tram, and Donny, Blake, Caleb, Matt, Zane and I headed out to Grubbs Notch. Dana stayed at the tram to run base, and Matt and Zane stayed at the Notch to run radio relay. The remaining four of us descended the chute directly south of Grubbs which led directly down to the subjects. We quickly descended and arrived at our subjects who had been tied to a tree by the State Park ranger to prevent them from slipping. Once we arrived we gave the subjects heavy winter coats to put on and made sure they were wearing microspikes. While I put harnesses on and anchored them to a tree, Blake and Caleb started chopping steps into the hard packed snow and ice and Donny rigged an anchor and system to lower the subjects to the trail. After lowering one of the two subjects, we realized that the trail switch backed close above our location, so we decided to instead short rope both subjects up to Grubbs Notch. Even with chopped steps, microspikes did not provide enough traction to make us feel the subjects were secure, so Donny short roped one subject and I the other.  We quickly made it to the top and headed for the tram.

As we commonly state in mission write ups, this rescue could have been prevented with proper equipment and training. The subjects had no traction and the rangers only had microspikes which are not adequate for steep hard packed snow and ice. As a result of this rescue and the many other rescues completed in just a few days on the skyline trail, it was closed to the public.


RMRU Members Involved:
Blake Douglas, Caleb Milner, Coby Brown, Dana Potts, Donny Goetz, James Eckhardt, Matt Frenken, Steve Rider, Vinay Rao, Zane Anglin

Other Agencies Involved: Riverside Sheriff’s Aviation