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Hope this isn't one of us...

02/02/2016 11:00 ANF-472
Hiker Fell/BDF Fatality Search & Rescue Devils Backbone Trail to Middle Fork . . . . . .

I hope BDF doesn't mean what I think it means. That would be insensitive.

I shouldn't be laughing.

Sean wrote:
I hope BDF doesn't mean what I think it means. That would be insensitive.

BDF ......"San Bernardino National Forest unit identifier"

Not as easy as ANF lol.
A hiker who fell down the side of Mount Baldy on Tuesday morning, Feb. 2, was pronounced dead about 10 hours later, according to a San Bernardino County coroner's report.

Authorities say David Nguyen was reported missing Tuesday at 7:41 a.m. by a fellow hiker. Nguyen slipped and fell near the Devil's Backbone area of the mountain.

Sheriff's officials located the man about 1,500 feet down the mountainside at 9:05 a.m.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said a search-and-rescue team spotted Nguyen, but couldn't reach him due to windy conditions.

She said ground units responded to the scene and had to hike to Nguyen's location. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:16 p.m., the coroner's report says. His age and hometown were not listed.

San Bernardino County sheriff's officials are investigating the incident.

Mount Baldy, a 10,064-foot peak whose official name is Mount San Antonio, is in the San Gabriel Mountains on the San Bernardino-Los Angeles county line. The Devil's Backbone trail follows a sharp ridge and is popular for its spectacular views.

It's not uncommon for people to get lost or sometimes injured while hiking Mount Baldy, Bachman said. Fatalities, however, are rare.

Very sad news. The article doesn't say whether he had an ax or not. A harsh reminder of the danger involved, especially in snow and ice.  Sad

Hiker fall

According to the news article, he fell off the Backbone trail on the north side. That is seriously steep - not sure an ice axe would be able to help stop your slide there.

I was acquainted with him, didn't seem like a serious outdoors-man so I doubt he had any gear.

link includes video from gofundme page
....Authorities said Nguyen and two other male friends were hiking in the Devilís Backbone area of Mount Baldy when he fell down the mountainside in the process of helping his fellow hiker on the trail....

From OC Register:
"....Thomas said first responders told Nguyenís father that he was reaching out to help a friend on the trail, which Whiteside said is between 8 feet and 12 feet wide, when Nguyen lost his footing. One of his friends reported his fall to authorities about 7:40 a.m., according to a coronerís report.

Whiteside said he had slid off the north side of the trail into a canyon near Stockton Flats..."

Perhaps they were trying to avoid the treacherous Manker Canyon side of the ridge, where the trail actually runs (buried under snow and ice), and then they couldn't negotiate the Stockton Flat side (or perhaps the very spine).


I had a friend hike the backbone in winter last year. He didn't know the trail goes around the bump there and stayed on the spine. He did have crampons and ax and said that was the only spot he felt exposed. With the deep snow this year, the trail on the side may be completely buried.

Yeah, I think many of the real mountaineers stick to the spine above Manker Canyon. It's the logical choice during winter conditions. I, however, am pretty stupid and once found myself staring down into the abyss, using a rock to chip footholds in the ice, hoping that my spikeless runners wouldn't fail me for perhaps the final time.

I bought some spikes after that.
Uncle Rico

More rescues

I'm sorry to hear about this fatality. Vietnamese families are very close. His parents must be devastated.

Back in 2009, I climbed down the north side of the Devils Backbone. Here was my trip report:

It is very steep back there. If the victim had an ice axe, he would need to self arrest within the first few seconds otherwise you would pick up too much speed. Even then, self arrest is no guarantee. You just can't afford to fall at all during winter conditions. Extreme vigilance is needed anytime you are in or near a fall zone, especially near the edge of a steep ridge. That edge is literally the line between life and death.

Here are some pics of the summer and winter routes and the crux from many years back:


Devils Backbone

Thanks for posting those pictures, Tim. I have real problems coming downhill on steep, loose stuff. My feet want to shoot out from under me. That section of the backbone always gave me the willies when it was dry. I can't imagine doing it with ice and snow.

Close up of the crux above Manker Canyon from February 2013. The snow was very hard and had to be chipped to create footholds. Still, one slip up will send you plummeting down the headwall. Forum Index -> News & Conditions
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