Mount Baldy is an «incredibly difficult hike» in wintry conditions, but late actor Julian Sands is an «extremely advanced hiker,» a friend of the actor told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
«It’s an incredibly tough hike in these weather conditions,» said actor Kevin Ryan, who first met Sands while filming a series called «Crossbones» together. Ryan has done the hike «multiple times» and twice in the winter.
«You’re talking six to eight to nine hours to get to the top,» Ryan added. «And when there is ice it is very difficult. I know that Julian is an extremely advanced and very willing hiker. He is in very, very good shape. And we are very keen that this is a positive feedback for him.»
However, Ryan noted that with California’s «very cold and wet weather» this year, it was likely hampering search efforts on the mountain.
ACTOR JULIAN SANDS THE LAST HIKER TO ENCOUNTER DISASTER NEAR POPULAR MOUNTAIN; EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON THE DANGERS
«I think the weather is a big part of that, why they can’t get to some of these areas,» Ryan said, adding that the snow can get deep.
On Wednesday afternoon, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said the search for Sands would continue by air only, adding that searchers were using RECCO technology which can detect reflective materials, electronics and, at times, credit cards.
Ryan said he remained optimistic that rescuers would find Sands, 65, alive, following the discovery of 75-year-old hiker Jin Chung, who had been missing for two days before being found alive. Sands has been missing for 13 days
Chung «suffered weather-related injuries and a leg injury, but was able to get out with the help of crew members,» the department said.
Ryan told Fox News Digital that «on an episode like this where every nerve-wracking day, hour by hour, you worry more about, you know, getting back safely, but all we have in a situation like this is hope.
“One of the things, like I said, is how advanced Julian is,” added Ryan. «And he’s a smart guy, and I’m still hopeful he holds up and, you know, survives.»
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Ryan said he last saw Sands a few months ago at Runyon Canyon in Los Angeles, where they often meet.
«A fun story, actually,» he said. «Once I was running down the mountain and I slipped and injured my left leg. And about eight seconds later Julian Sands appears around the corner. And he took me down the mountain safe. So he knows what he’s doing.»
He said Sands always goes on a hike prepared with everything he needs in his pack.
«He’s climbed serious mountains more than me. He’s a much more advanced hiker than me. So hopefully he’ll be fine,» he added.
ACTOR JULIAN SANDS IDENTIFIED AS MISSING CALIFORNIA HIKER
Sands’ brother, Nick Sands, sounded less optimistic in an interview with Britain’s Telegraph & Argus newspaper on Tuesday.
«He hasn’t been declared missing yet – presumed dead – but I know in my heart he’s gone,» Nick said. «However, sibling rivalry being what it is, it would be like him to walk out of there and prove me wrong.
«He has an army of friends, fans and admirers who have been fantastic in their support and Jules will be sorely missed.»
Despite the conditions, Ryan said he remains hopeful.
«I know how much [he] is, and I know how smart he is and how prepared he is,” Ryan said. «So I’m holding on. If anyone can pull it off, he can. And that’s all I can rely on for now. So I stand by that and say a prayer for him.»
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He also gave his «deepest love and support to the family».
«It’s an incredibly difficult time for them, and I just want to send them my love,» Ryan said. «I also want to thank all of the search teams, the sheriff’s department and everyone on the ground who have just worked tirelessly so far and continue to do so until they find Julian.»