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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Missing Mount Baldy survivor Jeong Jin-taek endured 58 hours by maintaining his body temperature in the snow for two days

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Jeong Jin-taek, who was rescued 58 hours after his disappearance, is smiling while receiving frostbite treatment at a hospital. [Provided by Cha Kyungseok]

“I got lost on the ridge near the summit of Mount Baldy in a heavy blizzard. It was windy and there was no way to go down. I just thought, ‘If I go down like this, I’ll die.’ At around 4 p.m., I made a place to spend the night while the sun was still there. After digging up the snow under a tree, I laid down on my backpack. I couldn’t sleep all night because I was crouching my posture to maintain my body temperature.”

Jeong Jin-taek (75) returned alive 58 hours after disappearing from climbing the summit of Mount Baldy at 6:30 a.m. on the 22nd. Discharged from the hospital after getting the frostbite treated on the 29th, Jeong talked about the risk of a hiking alone in winter. He said even though he got lost, he believes he was rescued in time because he was able to maintain his body temperature without panicking.

Jeong loves mountains enough to enjoy mountain marathons. On the day of his disappearance, Chung went his separate way apart from former chairman of the North American Mountain Association Cha Kyung-seok and an another acquaintance at the entrance of the San Antonio Falls hiking trail. The three agreed to meet at the top of the lift at the Mount Baldy Ski Resort around 1 p.m. Jeong, who went on a solo hike, said he never even imagined if getting lost.

Mount Baldy’s winter is famous for its beautiful snow mountains, but the weather is never consistent due to strong winds. Once the wind blows, the accumulated snow scatters, making it impossible to distinguish which way is which. “I couldn’t see anything [after reaching the top],” Jeong said. “There was no way to find my way back, so I decided to put myself out of harms way before the sun sets.”

After staying awake all night in the cold, Jeong faced a more serious situation. He said, “The wind didn’t stop once until 10 a.m. the next day. I tried to  find my way, but I had no choice but to give up. The wind stopped, but I had lost my gloves and hiking stick while coming down the hillside. The sun was about to set again, so I dug up the snow to stay up all night again,” he said.

Fortunately, when he went on a hike, Jeong had a backpack with energy bars and winter clothes. So thankfully, he wasn’t completely drained of energy before his rescue. Above all, his positive mindset was the ultimate key to surviving the cold night at Mount Baldy alone.

“I was not even a bit anxious or worried the second night,” he said. “I never doubted how this will end nor was filled with anxiety or hate from the situation. I was just comfortable. In fact, I purposely didn’t check the time. Then I fell asleep and when I woke up, it was a bright day.”

On the third day of his disappearance, when the strong wind subsided, Jeong reportedly found a road down the mountain peak. It is said that he relied on a hiking stick and looked down one by one toward the road.

“I came down from the mountain at around 2 p.m. (24th), and I saw people hiking from afar. I shouted for help, but they just waved their hand at me and left. After a little while, I saw people again. They reported me to the Sheriff Bureau, and about an hour later, I met the rescue team and was able to come down to the entrance of the hiking trail.”

Meanwhile, former chairman Cha said, “He recovered his health enough to visit the entrance of the hiking trail again on the 30th.”


Replying to @user799706134 Jin-Taek Jung(75), who were missing for 58 hours in Mt. Baldy, got safely returned. Despite a good news, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department urged not to hike as it’s very dangerous #fyp #news #localnews #mtbaldy #missing #rescue #sanbernardinocounty #hiking #danger #korean

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KIM HYUNG-JAE [kim.ian@koreadaily.com]