Death on Devil's Backbone

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Death on Devil's Backbone

Postby Wildhorse » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:22 am

The Claremont Courier reports that a young man, 23, slipped on Devil's Backbone (at Mt Baldy) and fell 1500 feet to his death.

I have heard that many people fall there, especially when it is covered with snow and ice. USFS rangers in Baldy Village discourage this hike in those conditions, and they are quick to tell stories of people who have fallen. The place gives me the creeps. The knife edge. The name. The deaths.
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Re: Death on Devil's Backbone

Postby Ellen » Thu Feb 04, 2016 10:08 am

:cry: :cry: :cry:
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Re: Death on Devil's Backbone

Postby Ed » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:38 am

Very sad and grim at the same time. As always, it would be nice to have details: where on the route, going up or down, equipment. Perhaps there will be some details in SAR reports.

I think the line between hiking and climbing has become very blurred. As far as I am concerned, the Devil's Backbone with snow is a climb, not a hike. And a hazardous one that requires good nerves and balance, since there are places where if you fall, the best self-arrest is not going to save you.

On the San Gabriel forum on Monday, there was an enquiry from people who wanted to do a loop ascent of Baldy today, mentioning the ski lifts. The first reply posted contained ample cautionary warnings about the Devil's Backbone. But I would have gone further, and simply said No! No! No! There were subsequent posts that were stiffer.
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Re: Death on Devil's Backbone

Postby zippetydude » Thu Feb 04, 2016 5:35 pm

Yes, I'm with you Ed. It's no longer just a hike if there is a "No Fall Zone" (meaning self-arrest would be impossible) involved. That includes certain routes in almost any mountain range in icy conditions. Sad to hear this.

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Re: Death on Devil's Backbone

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Re: Death on Devil's Backbone

Postby Wildhorse » Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:50 pm

What a story. No moral is large enough to contain it. The sadness pierces the heart and leaves its irradicable scar. Each of us who has survived sees the young hero's kind eyes and his strong arms reaching out to help us. And then the overwhelming terror.
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