Last Saturday, February 25, there were two different search and rescue operations around the Cathedral Peak area above Mission Canyon north of Santa Barbara.

The first incident was reported just after 3 p.m. Two hikers, a male in his fifties and female in her forties from the Los Angeles area, became disoriented just below Cathedral Peak. Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue (SAR) was dispatched to assist them.

While attempting to climb from Tunnel Road up to La Cumbre Peak, the hikers lost the trail and spent several hours crawling through foliage until they reached the bottom of Cathedral Peak. Exhausted and with an increasingly diminishing water supply, they dialed 9-1-1 to ask for assistance.

SAR made contact via phone with the hikers, determined where they were based on the hikers’ descriptions of the terrain, and responded with three ground teams and a helicopter to their location. After finding them, the helicopter dropped water to the pair, and by using cell phones the SAR team directed them safely back to the trail.

As SAR was coordinating the first incident, Santa Barbara County Emergency Dispatch received a report of a 55-year-old Camarillo woman who slipped backward over a rock, fracturing her ankle. Unable to travel farther, the group she was traveling with called 9-1-1 for help.

The hikers initially thought they were on Tunnel Trail, but a SAR team member on the helicopter already on scene for the first incident used GPS to determine that the hikers were actually on the steep portion of the Cathedral Peak Trail, just below La Cumbre Peak. Rescue personnel from SAR and the U.S. Forest Service went to La Cumbre Peak and hiked down with medical gear and a stretcher to the injured woman.

Given the steepness of the location, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department was requested to perform a hoist rescue with one of their helicopters. The U.S. Forest Service reached the injured hiker, splinted her fractured ankle, and assisted in hoisting her up to the helicopter, which flew her to a loading zone on Spyglass Ridge. SAR and County Fire personnel then transferred the woman to paramedics for transport to Cottage Hospital.


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