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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Korean Man in his 70s Missing on Mount Baldy

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Jeong Jin-taek

A Korean man who went hiking in Mount Baldy went missing, and rescue teams launched a search.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff Bureau and former chairman of the North American Mountain Association Cha Kyung-seok, Jeong Jin-taek (75) from Los Angeles went to the summit of Mount Baldy at around 6:30 a.m. on the 22nd and has not returned for more than 36 hours.

“After breaking up with Jeong at the entrance of the San Antonio Falls hiking trail, we decided to meet on the top of the lift at Mountain Boldy Ski Resort at 1 p.m,” Cha said. “But Jeong did not return.” He said he had been waiting for more than an hour before reporting him missing.

Former chairman Cha and an acquaintance who went hiking together waited for Jeong at the place they were supposed to meet until noon on the 23rd. Four mountain rescue workers have been searching for two days along the hiking trail that Jeong was expected to climb.

Cha said, “The weather was very good when I went hiking, but on the 23rd, the rescue helicopter couldn’t fly due to strong winds,” adding, “I’m more worried because he left his phone and wallet in the car.”

Jeong is known to have lived alone in LA. He usually enjoyed mountain marathons and visited Mount Baldy before climbing the Himalayas. Former chairman Cha said, “At the time of climbing, he was well equipped with winter clothes and hiking equipment.”

Currently, there is a lot of snow near the summit of Mount Baldy due to last winter’s storm. Kim, a Korean mountaineer, said, “The upper part of the mount Baldy ski resort is beautiful, so many people use it for winter hiking,” adding, “On the right side, you should be careful since there is a lot of snow piled up due to a steep slope.” “Unless you are an expert, I don’t recommend hiking alone,” he said.

Meanwhile, 14 rescue reports have been filed in Mount Baldy and surrounding areas over the past four weeks. These include cases of getting lost during hiking, isolated hikers, and injuries. On the 13th, two people, including British actor Julian Sands, went missing near Mount Baldy.

“People need to know that the current situation in Mount Baldy is extremely dangerous,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department said. “Winter storms and strong winds have turned snow into ice. Please pay attention to all the warning signs.” he said.

For safe hiking, the authorities advise all hikers to check the weather conditions of the area, prepare thoroughly for mountain conditions with equipment like ice axe, proper clothes, etc., hike with a partner, carry GPS devices such as SPOT or INREACH, and to take extra battery and start the hike after fully charging their phones.

Reporter Kim Hyung-jae kim.ian@koreadaily.com

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