(LOS ANGELES) — Eight hikers who went missing nearly 9,000 feet up a mountain in heavy rain and snow in Angeles National Forest have been rescued after an operation that took nearly 10 hours.
The hikers, all from the University of California Los Angeles Hiking Club, were shaken but suffered no injuries, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Five other members of the club had been able to find their way out.
“I’ve been doing this 20 years as a volunteer and I never seen anybody so happy to see us,” Reserve Deputy Sheriff Mike Leum said.
The conditions in the search area near Throop Peak were snowy and icy, with some drifts causing the rescuers to plunge thigh-deep into the snow drifts, authorities said.
It took six hours for the rescue team to get the students out because of the treacherous conditions. To prevent the students from falling, the rescue team placed harnesses and ropes on them to safely lower them down icy slopes, the sheriff’s department said.
The hikers were caught in the same storm system that has been wreaking havoc on northern California homes, cars, and roads.
Winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour brought down trees and power lines and the heavy rains caused dangerous conditions on the road.
Those whipping winds also fanned the flames of a wildfire in the Sierra Nevada mountains that erupted Friday.
The blaze has already burned 7,000 acres, decimating 40 homes and buildings, forcing residents to evacuate. But the heavy rains have helped to put out the fires, and officials said late Sunday that it is now 65 percent contained.
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