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Winter visitors hit the trails, end up in harm's way

PHOENIX -- Winter visitors are flocking to the Valley where many are taking on the mountains and finding themselves in danger.

An average of three hikers a year die on Valley trails.

Phoenix Fire carries out more mountain rescues than any other agency in the United States and it has had several rescues recently because of above normal temperatures.

"They'll climb it and think they can get to a certain point. Think they can push to the summit and that's where they get in trouble," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Larry Nunez.

Out-of-staters in particular jump to the conclusion that many of the area mountains will be a piece of cake to climb.

"Or they thought they could push themselves further and now they realize it's that much harder getting back," Nunez said.

Hikers should know their physical limitations before hitting the trail.

"You really have to look at what you're wearing and your physical condition," Nunez said.

And if a hiker has any doubt about climbing a trail or a mountain, Nunez offered one word of advice: Don't.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite food: Steak and shrimp, and any food on campouts.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Favorite news memory: The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. The 2007 Southern California Firestorm and being at Sky Harbor Airport when the first plane lifted off several days after 9-11. Seeing the American flag on the tail of the Salt Lake City-bound Delta airliner as it took off still gives me goosebumps.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges -- which was outstanding --, Lonesome Dove.

First job: Spinning records at KLER Radio Orofino, Idaho 1980.

First concert: KISS/Cheap Trick 1977 Spokane, WA Coliseum.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, The University of Montana Grizzlies and Texas Rangers.

Outside interests: Sports, camping, fishing, traveling.

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