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

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. 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. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

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

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

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