Julian Sands Was Wearing Gear Unsuitable for Icy Climb, Hikers Who Found His Body Say

“I was a little shocked to see the microspikes. They were just the wrong tools,” observed Bill Dwyer, on the boot attachments the actor was found with

julian sands mt baldy
Julian Sands and Mt. Baldy (Getty Images)

Julian Sands appeared to be unprepared for the likely challenges he would face on the climb of a Los Angeles-area mountain in which he did not return from, according to two of the hikers who found his body in June.

The hikers, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times in order to help better educate the public about the dangers of such winter climbs, said he was found with boots that did not feature appropriate attachments and was not wearing a helmet or carrying a mountaineers’ ice ax.

“I was a little shocked to see the microspikes,” Bill Dwyer told the LA Times in an interview published Thurdsay. “They were just the wrong tools for the job at hand.”

Dwyer said Sands would have needed more than the small metal cleats for the kind of winter conditions and terrain Sands was hiking. Sands would have been much better suited using crampons, which feature longer spikes and are worn on heavier mountaineering boots. The crampons help to secure a climber on steep, icy surfaces.

It’s uncertain exactly how and why Sands died but the location in which his bones, clothes, boots and phone were found in Mt. Baldy’s Goode Canyon offer solid clues about where he could have fallen before becoming seriously injured.

Friends and family have said Sands was an experienced mountain climber and had often scaled Mt. Baldy in similar conditions.

Sands’ cause of death was deemed in late July to be “undetermined” after an investigation by the coroner’s office. Sands’ body was found by the hikers on June 24 after he went missing in January when he did not return from the hike.

Authorities in San Bernardino County said the official determination, which was not uncommon in such cases, was due to the condition of Sands’ body and “because no other factors were discovered during the coroner’s investigation.”

The two hikers who spoke to the Los Angeles Times also revealed a backpack was not found with Sands, in which he could have been carrying a shovel, location transponder and other survival materials and equipment that are often standard for such winter climbs. Sands was also wearing exclusively dark clothes, which could have made discovering his location harder during rescue efforts, of which were extensive, including one from just days before his body was found.

“He was dressed like a ninja,” one of the hikers said, incredulously.

Meanwhile, Sands’ cellphone was found atop a rock beneath a tree nearby, in an area with no signal. There were no other electronic devices found that would have aided his rescue.

The hiker who organized the group that discovered Sands’ remains is still deeply troubled by it. That hiker talked to the Times on condition of anonymity.

“Can you imagine the despair, the isolation?” the hiker said of Sands knowing a search was underway as he heard the sorties of the rescue helicopters — with no way to signal. “I still have nightmares about that.”