Crystal Paula Gonzalez, a mother of four and a highly accomplished hiker, tragically died this past Sunday after she slipped and plummeted more than 500 feet down Mount Baldy. Her friends and family referred to her as the “Hiking Queen” due to her impressive achievements, such as summiting Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the continental United States.
Gonzalez had posted on Facebook about her hike up the mountain, where she encountered a “uncontrollable column of ice” that made the conditions too dangerous to continue, so she decided to turn back. However, on the journey down, she accidentally slipped and fell 500 to 700 feet before hitting a tree.
Rescue medic Eric Rose, who attempted to save Gonzalez, said that the low cloud ceiling at the time made it too unsafe to use a hoist rescue to get her to the hospital. The rescue team therefore had to create a rope system to lower her down the mountain.
Gonzalez’s daughters released a statement about their mother, expressing her kindness, her love for life, and her passion for adventure that she passed onto her children.
San Bernardino County rescue teams typically perform three to four rescues per weekend near Mount Baldy, but they note that people may underestimate the risk of extreme alpine conditions in Southern California.
The family of Gonzalez is raising money for her funeral services, and have thanked the community for their generosity and support.