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After Spate of Hiker Deaths and Injuries in Southern California, Officials Urge Caution

Law enforcement and rescue personnel in Palm Springs are asking hikers to make sure they know their limits after a series of deaths and rescues on the area's trails.

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Law-enforcement officials in Palm Springs, California, are warning visitors to take extra precautions when hiking or climbing on local trails. 

“The trail conditions beyond 6,000 feet become very cold and icy, and become more treacherous after sundown,” local police wrote. “Remember  to dress warm, have adequate water, and use crampons or shoes with spikes.”

The message, which was published on Facebook, comes after a recent spate of outdoor deaths and search and rescue missions in the area. 

The most recent incident occurred on Saturday, January 29—a hiker fell to his death in remote terrain outside the town of Idyllwild, in the San Jacinto Mountains. After receiving a distress call that afternoon, crews descended from a helicopter onto a very steep hillside, where they found the hiker and pronounced him dead. His body was removed Monday morning. 

On January 28, the Riverside County Sheriff’s department was involved in a night-long rescue mission on the nearby Mount San Jacinto Skyline Trail to save two hikers and two state-park workers. The hikers, both in their sixties, were stranded without warm clothing on an icy stretch after sunset. They phoned the local state-park office, and a ranger and wilderness aide set off to retrieve them. But the ranger slipped on ice and fell 100 feet. All four were eventually rescued. 

These incidents happened on the heels of two other area deaths. On January 17, officials at Joshua Tree National Park discovered the body of rock climber Michael Spitz, 35, of San Diego. Spitz reportedly died while free-soloing the popular Illusion Dweller route the day before. Then, on January 20, Robert Doggett, 24, fell to his death while hiking on a trail just south of Palm Springs.