Three men who planned a day hike to Cucamonga Peak above Alta Loma spent Monday night in near-freezing temperatures when they discovered their route back was blocked by ice and snow. The hikers, who only received small cuts to their hands while navigating through brush, escaped significant injury because they stayed put and had sufficient clothing, food and water, rescuers said.
"Once they got in that situation and realized they weren't prepared for it, they made good decisions and they weren't injured," said Dan Whitten, deputy coordinator for the West Valley Search and Rescue Team.
Paul Hewes, 40, of San Dimas, Eric Youngren, 19, and Daniel Lumbreras, 28, both of Rancho Cucamonga, were treated at the scene by paramedics and released to their families.
The men planned to hike up to the peak from the south side of the 8,859-foot mountain, and then walk down the six-mile trail to Icehouse Canyon trailhead and parking lot where their car was parked, Whitten said.
The men reached the peak about 2:30 p.m. and began to hike back, but on the north side of the mountain, they ran into trouble.
"They had good gear as far as safety stuff, but they weren't prepared for snow and ice. They didn't realize there would be that much," Whitten said.
Hewes searched for a safe route around the snow and ice, but couldn't find one. The other men stayed behind near the peak.
Hewes built a campfire, which was detected by a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Firehawk helicopter Monday night. Rescuers hiked up the mountain and stayed with him overnight.
A 25-man team on the ground began searching early Tuesday on the south side of Cucamonga Peak after they traced a cut-off cell phone call made by one of the remaining hikers.
Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy David Smail said San Bernardino County rescuers indicated there might have been an injured person, so they requested assistance.
"The rescue helicopter came in there and hoisted them out," Smail said.
All three men were taken off the mountain by 8:30 a.m.