Search continues for missing actor Julian Sands on California mountain

Actor Julian Sands attends the "Forbidden Fruit" readings from banned works of literature on Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif.  Sands has been missing on Southern California's Mount Baldy since Jan.  13.

One week after an actor went missing on a treacherous mountain near Los Angeles, search-and-rescue crews are holding out hope that his mountaineering experience has allowed him to survive below-freezing temperatures and snowy conditions.

Julian Sands, best known for his work in “A Room With a View” and “Warlock went,” missing on Mount Baldy on Jan. 13. The search for the 65-year-old British actor began that day and has continued every day since, turning up no sign of him.

Though not well known outside of Southern California, Mount Baldy is one of the most infamous peaks in the region, as much for its difficulty as its beauty. Though just an hour outside of sunny Los Angeles, the 10,064-foot (4,193 meters) mountain is often covered in snow and ice in the winter and has been the site of many deaths and accidents over the years.

Earlier this month, an experienced hiker and mother of four named Crystal Gonzalez fell 500 feet to her death while attempting to summit Baldy. Her death came less than two weeks after another hiker, Jarret Choi, died in a fall in nearby Ice House Canyon. Crews are also searching for another missing hiker in the mountains just east of Baldy.

“We’re doing the best we can,” said Gloria Huerta, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County sheriff’s crews who recovered Gonzalez’s body and are still searching for any sign of Sands.

Two cellphone pings on the 13th showed that Sands was in the Baldy area, Huerta said.

Though their resources are stretched and the conditions inhospitable, she said crews plan to continue the search for Sands indefinitely.

“We understand from the family that he is experienced and it sounds like he went up there prepared,” Huerta said. “We’re still hopeful for a good outcome.”

Mount Baldy is covered in snow in the Angeles National Forest north of Los Angeles, California on December 26, 2019 after a cold winter storm brought heavy rain, snow and strong winds to Southern California.  (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1NB6NY

Though helicopter crews and SWAT teams with drones have been looking for Sands every day since he went missing, ground crews were only able to safely search the mountain for him on Jan. 14, when weather moved in and created dangerous avalanche conditions that remain today.

Part of the problem with deaths and rescues on Baldy is its easy access to Los Angeles and the fact that people underestimate its difficulty, said Jeff Hester, an experienced mountaineer who helps run a Facebook hiking group in Southern California and owns a company that organizes challenges for hikers throughout the country.

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