Mar. 20, 2011: Missing Hiking Group / Cliff Rescue - Los Padres National Forest

03/20/11 , Sunday 17:40 Hours – 03/21/11, Monday, 03:00 Hours

Rescue team members assist a backpacker across a waterfall. Photo by Antonio M. Arizo

A Sierra Club backpacking group went for a weekend trip on Saturday, March 21, in the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai. They split into three groups going to up three different trails to different trail camps. A very heavy rain storm went through the area on Sunday. None of the groups returned back to the trailhead. The assumption was that they were not able to cross back over the creeks which were now raging rivers.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department dispatched the Upper Ojai Team to search for the group. Five swiftwater rescue East Valley Team members also dispatched to assist in any river crossings or rescues. While searching the trails that the groups took, lights were spotted on a ridge above Highway 33 near the Potrero John trailhead. Four members of the group could not cross a creek and tried an alternative route that led to a 400 foot drop to the highway. Heavy snow was starting to fall in the area.

The rescue team climbed up the steep hillside. A safety line was set up to get the subjects across a waterfall and another line was dropped so that rescue members could rappel the subjects down to the highway.

The subjects were suffering from mild hypothermia and were transported to a hospital for treatment.

The other two groups were located Monday and were air lifted out by the Ventura County Sheriff's helicopter. All were in good condition.

View photos of the rescue.

See the news article.

See the Ventura County Sheriff's Media Release.

Read the account by the subjects in the Sierra Club's Los Padres Chapter's Newsletter (PDF 1.3 Mb)

Read the Ventura Star Rescue story