Crews pull two to safety in dramatic Ladder Canyon rescue

MECCA — Firefighters called to help two hikers who had become stranded in Ladder Canyon near Mecca plucked one of the injured victims to safety after the victim fell 25-40 feet into the canyon, Sunday morning, Aug. 11. CHP assisted in the rescue, by flying firefighters and other rescuers into the remote and inaccessible area.

Ladder Canyon is a popular well-known hiking destination located 40 miles southeast of Palm Springs, and was named for the countless ladders peppered throughout the trail, which are necessary to use if completing the full, 5-mile canyon loop. Covering the full canyon loop can take 3-5 hours for experienced hikers in excellent physical condition, but the difficult trail, which often catches many less experienced hikers off guard and ill prepared, is the sight of many area rescues every year.


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Cal Fire/Riverside County firefighters, along with deputies from the Thermal Sheriff’s Station and other emergency personnel, responded to Ladder Canyon early Sunday morning, after receiving a report that a hiker had fallen from a steep cliff within the canyon.

The person who called 911 for help was at the top of the plateau and reported their hiking companion was stranded with injuries that kept the man from trying to climb out of the canyon on his own, officials reported after the successful rescue.

A rescuer is seen rappelling down a steep cliff while rescuing an injured and stranded hiker who fell 25-40 feet in Ladder Canyon. Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department photo

Because of remote area of the rescue, CHP’s Air 60 responded to the scene to assist with the rescue, and was seen ferrying rescuers to and from the site of the accident.

Rescuers eventually rappelled down the canyon’s steep clifts to reach the injured and stranded victim, before pulling the man from the canyon and to safety.

Officials did not specify the nature or full extent of the victim’s injuries, or if the person required hospitalization after being plucked from the canyon.


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According to officials, the most common reason for most of those rescues is lack of proper planning and preparation.

“Consider taking plenty of water, food, and a mobile charging port in order to maintain a charged cell phone,” officials explained. “Hikers should also be aware of the weather report and take appropriate clothing for the conditions.”

Proper preparation also includes a well thought out travel plan shared with friends and family, as well as familiarity with common hiking equipment, such as GPS, maps and compasses.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department photos

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he currently writes for or has written for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, the (now defunct) Valley Chronicle, Hemet & San Jacinto Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 29 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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