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State park ranger gives hiker safety tips after Thursday air rescue near Palm Springs Tram

If you plan to hit the mountain trails, be ready for some possible chilly and icy conditions. 

"Understand that the weather that you're experiencing down at the at the bottom of the tram is not what you're going to be dealing with," said Mt. San Jacinto chief ranger Mike Dippel. "When you get up top, there could be wind, ice, snow."

Dippel said preparation is key before going hiking.

"The skyline trail, it's not recommended to hike that trail this time of year due to ice," said Dippel. "You want to either have a backpack with a change of clothes that you can get into full winter gear."

Traction devices are highly recommended to hike in snowy and icy conditions. 

"Altitude can play a factor too. Where you know, altitude sickness can come in if you're not used to being at eight, nine, 10,000 feet," said Dippel. "So it really is a different world up there and if you have any questions you can always contact our ranger staff at the Long Valley Ranger Station or over in Idyllwild and they'll be happy to give information to the public about, 'Hey, what's the weather like up there? What should I wear? What type of gear should I bring?' Those types of things.'"

An air rescue lasted hours Thursday evening near the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway after a state ranger working on a hiker rescue fell 100 feet, officials said.

The incident started at around 6:35 p.m. when two people in their sixties were hiking on the Skyline Trail in the San Jacinto Mountain. The hikers ended up trapped on the trail due to the icy conditions, the State Park Incident Commander told News Channel 3 at the scene.

Two state park rangers went up the trail to rescue the hikers, however, while attempting to reach them, one of the rangers slipped on ice and fell 100 feet into a ravine, the commander said.

The ranger hurt his leg and was hoisted out of the area by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department Rescue 9 helicopter shortly before 9 p.m.

The commander added that the other ranger and the hiker remained trapped on the trail due to weather conditions. Rangers called in additional personnel to help them get free.

State Rangers and the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit were on scene for hours.

An official with the Tram tells News Channel 3 that the trams opened as normal at 10:00 Friday morning. Services were not affected by the rescue operation.

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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.


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