A 53-year-old Santa Barbara man and his two dogs were rescued Friday night, June 11, from the cliffs below Arlington Peak by members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) team. The Santa Barbara resident and his two dogs started the hike Friday afternoon at the end of Tunnel Road with the intention of reaching Cathedral Peak north of Arlington Peak and returning before it got dark. However, on the way back down, the hiker lost the unimproved trail several times and found himself stuck on the face of the large vertical cliff section of rocks below Arlington Peak above Inspiration Point. Being fatigued and concerned about himself or one of his dogs falling if they continued in the dark, he called 9-1-1 to request assistance.
Nine members of SBCSAR responded just after 9 p.m. and through the combination of the hiker's phone GPS coordinates and visual searching of the area were able to locate the cliff area where the hiker was trapped. SBCSAR teams with ropes and technical rescue equipment climbed up to the hiker and helped him and his dogs back down to Tunnel Trail around 1:30 am Saturday morning where he was released unharmed.
While this unimproved trail is seeing more and more use, SBCSAR reminds the public that this section of the back country is extremely challenging even for the most prepared and equipped hikers. The trail is difficult to follow with many variations and off shoots that can take hikers in the wrong direction along the large rocky ridge line leading up to Arlington Peak. Only experienced and physically fit hikers should attempt the very steep climb. In addition, plenty of water along with a good headlamp and adequate clothing should be taken in case people find themselves down climbing in the dark. SBCSAR also emphasizes the importance of telling someone where you are going and when you are expected to return. In this rescue, the hiker was able to use his cell phone to call for help but after he made his first few calls to 9-1-1 the battery ran out so having a back-up plan of notification is essential. SBCSAR commends the hiker for doing the right thing by recognizing his predicament, calling for assistance and waiting for help to arrive.