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Stranded hunter rescued from cliff in Los Padres National Forest

November 12, 2012 |  1:27 pm

Members of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team mounted a daring nighttime cliff rescue in an effort to free a hunter who was stranded in a river gorge, authorities saidMembers of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team mounted a daring nighttime cliff rescue to free a hunter stranded in a river gorge, authorities said Monday.

The 53-year-old hunter was crossing the north ridge of Frenchman's Flat in the Los Padres National Forest near Castaic on Sunday when he decided to change course and climb down into the creek to cross and return on the south side of the trail, according to a statement by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials.

The man, whose identity was not disclosed, managed to reach a vertical section just above the creek but couldn’t go any farther, and it was too dark for him to try to climb back up the ridge, authorities said. So he used his cellphone to call authorities.

The search and rescue team was able to reach the south side of the creek but swift water that was about 4 feet deep prevented the unit from crossing. The Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatched a helicopter to try to locate the stranded hunter but was unable to retrieve him due to the steep terrain and tight spaces between the canyons, authorities said.

The helicopter instead used a beacon to illuminate the area. After hiking sometimes steep terrain for more than 90 minutes and using safety ropes, rescue team members were able to reach a spot near the hunter, who was stranded across the river and 40 feet up a vertical slope, authorities said.

The team used a safety rope to lower the man to a river bank. He was then secured in a harness, attached to the safety line and guided across the river, authorities said.

Officials reported that the man said he was equipped with a flashlight, safety reflective tape, water and food, and that he told them he was prepared to brave the elements overnight in a sleeping bag if necessary.

Authorities did not describe the nature of the man's hunting expedition.

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-- Ann M. Simmons

Photo: A member of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team crosses a swift water creek during Sunday night's operation in the Los Padres National Forest. Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

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