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SLO City Fire rescue highlights risk of hiking Bishop Peak open space

  In June 2019 SLO City Fire rescued a19-year-old female who fell approximately 50 feet off Bishop Peak while climbing
SLO City Fire
In June 2019 SLO City Fire rescued a19-year-old female who fell approximately 50 feet off Bishop Peak while climbing

This weekend, a hiker with a leg injury was rescued by San Luis Obispo City Fire on Bishop Peak Trail, one of the most popular hiking summits on the Central Coast.

Firefighter officials say as beautiful as the hike is, it’s also a spot where they regularly have to do rescue missions.

Samantha Jones is a San Luis Obispo rock climber who made the trek up Bishop Peak on Tuesday to climb the infamous volcanic summit.

“The hike is really beautiful because you can see views of the whole town, and the ocean," Jones said. "Lots of rocks along the way.”

Jones was climbing by herself Tuesday, but says she always tells people where she is, because she’s aware it's a spot where rescues frequently happen.

“I get scared sometimes," Jones said. "But it’s really fun and difficult.”

James Blatter with SLO City Fire said every year, firefighters average seven open space technical rescue missions throughout city trails, and many of those come from Bishop Peak.

“Unfortunately, accidents do happen when individuals are out there," Blatter said. "Whether they are putting themselves in harm's way by walking off trail, or just an incident occurs where you roll an ankle.”

Blatter said rescue missions include people getting lost after going off trail, or hiking at night when they shouldn’t be. Their common rescue missions are hikers and climbers who slip and fall along the rocks.

“It can be dangerous," Blatter said. "There are higher winds up there. There are big dropoffs, and if you lose your footing, you can drop a significant distance.”

In September 2020, a hiker was rescued after sustaining major injuries from a 30-foot fall. Two similar accidents happened in 2019 of hikers falling 30 and 50 feet, and in 2016, one hiker became paralyzed from the waist down after falling nearly 30 feet around the top of Bishop Peak.

Blatter urges people to stay on trail, know their skill level, and climb with others if they can. If people need help, they should try to remember the trail post markers they pass along the way.

“So it’ll be a code that you can tell the 9-1-1 dispatchers that, 'I just passed this spot,'" Blatter said. "That will really cut down the response times and us being able to locate that individual.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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